Yes, The Cravats are back with their first new album in a mere 35 years. they are back by popular demand or something like that as everyone I have mentioned getting this album to review has wanted a copy or turned out to be a fan of the band!
Now, while the press release makes a lot of the fact that no one sounds like them, yet I can honestly say they are not as unique as claimed but it doesn't matter as this is still a contender for album of the year to my ears.
It opens with King Of Walking Away; setting down the band's patent sax-led sound and lyrics that are almost as obtuse as The Nightingales but with The Shend almost sounding like Swedish Opera singer Lars Cleveman does on his rock albums.
Batterhouse has a wonderful sense of claustrophobia about it as the tale of this awful place unfolds and the sax and clarinet punctuate the lyrics about a sister establishment to the Bucket Of Blood. It could also be about one of those black site torture chambers we are not meant to know about, I guess, and it seems to be sung from the point of view of someone being tortured within. It's related over the rumbling, clattering music that fuses the Contortions to the Nightingales.
Motorcycle Man features a guest appearance on Oscillators by Simeon Coxe from the Silver Apples and it's a cool motorcycle song that when it breaks down in the middle has shades of The Near Jazz Experience about it. The oscillators sound like a revving motor bike and the wheelie he's going to pull as he roars off at top speed to who knows where.
100 Percent makes it clear that The Shend is 100 percent and very good at it too. Remembering all the fanzine articles I read by him back in the day, he always was that way, and as he claims the weather is fine, the music almost becomes pretty for a few bars before the dystopian noise comes back in sounding like a distillation of the last three Nightingales albums into one hundred percent tune.
Blurred thankfully bears no resemblance to any hit song with Blurred in its title and the sax and clarinet play fluid lines that are far better for you than the cigarettes mentioned in the lyrics. I wish I could remember the late 70's Iggy Pop tune they've reworked the riff from, but either way it sounds damn cool.
Power Lines are not lines of steroids as far as I can tell but another psychodrama of what happens when the power lines are down and things might be going all V for Vendetta on us at this point in the re-imagining of a world in which The Cravats would be at the top of the charts howling about Power Lines down against the droning and stabbing clatter that accompanies it as the pylons collapse.
Jingo Bells is a wondrously taut tirade against the jingoistic idiots who seek to rule the world in the name of a piece of cloth or some other nebulous reason and the dystopian dance is being mutated on the dance floor in the bowels of the resistance's last redoubt.
Bury The Wild seems to be a rant against the disgusting things meat eaters consume over the roiling insistent beat and the sax and clarinet interventions. Yep, they sound like a slightly less obtuse Nightingales and that is no bad thing at all, even if I can't wag my tail.
Big Band sounds like Wiseblood in full on motorik pandemonium flying down the road to the venue the Big Band is filling out and then that sax mania hits and by this point I know I need to go find some old stuff by The Cravats before that Chinese cymbal sound expires.
Whooping Sirens is a real song of my life as they ask where the whooping Sirens go. I think that I must have seen and heard 20 or more of them yesterday and another few today. It really is a song for the modern paranoid citizen wondering if we are under attack or the cops are late for lunch again.
Hang Them gives us an old solution (or three) to how to rid ourselves of the wrong sort or at least how some of the idiots think they should be behaving. While maniacs machine gun country music shows and police fire rubber bullets at people for wanting to vote, this has a real currency to it in our insane times. It's time to join the Cravats and find a way forwards.
Big Red Car is the plot line to another car-obsessed chase movie that goes darker than most as we don't know if the characters are alive or dead or if the car has four gears or five as it motoriks towards a wiseblood stained wall.
All U Bish Dumpers isn't a tribute to everyone's favourite punk drummer, Bish from Flesh For Lulu, The Derella's etc.. It's more wondering about some of the reality shows in hell as poor old Hedgehog man becomes the first sandwich to be killed in Waitrose. No, really, he was and in this context that makes perfect sense and a great end to a mighty comeback record.
Find out more from the ever brilliant Overground Records online