Considering the changes this band has gone through since its 800,000-selling debut, it's a wonder this exceptional follow-up doesn't sound even more different than it does. To summarize: 1) the first album, Star, was recorded by the band and an engineer; this one is produced by veteran Glyn Johns, the only man who can say he's worked with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin and The Eagles. 2) All but one of Star's 15 tracks were written entirely by Tanya Donelly; on King, more than half the songs are co-writes; 3) King also marks the recording debut of the band's touring bassist, Gail Greenwood.

While Star was the type of album that hit you the first time through, King is definitely from the it - takes - a - while - to - grow - on - you school. The sound is similar but less poppy, and the lyrics are much more personal that Star's character sketches. What hasn't changed is the remarkable staying power of the material. Once it sinks in, you won't want to let it go. -- John Sakamoto

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