The thing is it's bloody catchy in the way that Christina Aguliera is catchy; it should annoy you to blazes, but the song's hooks don't grab you as much as get you by the throat and then jump all over your quivering, gelatinous form.
Chronic Heist – Fake This Dream
Bugger, this isn't going to be easy. Crimson Faces Ride Our Reason starts quietly enough for about oh, 3 seconds before we get what is essentially Chronic Heist's trademark; a keyboard-led wedding stomp, topped off with some deranged vocals. The thing is it's bloody catchy in the way that Christina Aguliera is catchy; it should annoy you to blazes, but the song's hooks don't grab you as much as get you by the throat and then jump all over your quivering, gelatinous form. (I should point out that actually does differ quite wildly from the afore-mentioned diva's pop sass, as Chronic Heist have far more in common with Beefheart (albeit a wildly Nordic Beefheart) than the Neptunes. I just don't want to get sued by parents of tearful, disappointed children).
Gather Little Tracks is another head-on charge into Can of Bees/Trout Mask territory, time signatures and key changes are swapped like spare stamps from a schoolboy's collection. Librarian is a different beast altogether, slopping around as a jazzy stroll with the odd clatter of drums and guitar at the appropriate moment. However the lyrics more than compensate with their mention of "roaring puppets" and books being the essential ingredient to building a "ladder of death"...
What next? Ah its Think Henry, Think. This is a lament, albeit a menacing, atonal one with the odd hint of rockabilly (it must be them keyboards). There's a great key-surge two thirds of the way through, GBV style, before we descend with the band into some form of primeval keyboard swamp. Sleepstakes is a meandering thing, the song seemingly forever trying to keep up with the guitar which rules the roost here. It also has the fabulous chorus "Grandfather flapping in thin air/telling tales of life as it was/ hunted by panthers that/sure was caged when I arrived" I do hope that's a metaphor else I ain't going to Sweden... like, evah...
Dimockamond begins its life as a skewed acoustic thing before succumbing to a slobbering, guitar-led camp fire sing-song. For the sonic traveller, it offers a moment of light relief in the strange landscape. However it still possesses that weird atonality that always threatens to escape and mug this entire recording... A Cocteaus-style guitar leads us into the maudlin It's Only Dead I Feel, which is classic Soft Boys (nary a hint of keyboards here). God, the next track is called At Ease With The Beast which is something any listener to Chronic Heist can't be, surely... having said that this is perky enough, even whimsical, which is something given the lyrical content. The keys are back to lend a jaunty air, and we get the change in tempos too. Time Stop Time is another stomp, much angrier than the last couple of tracks, and there's mention of building cages and social constriction. There's some great yelling on here too. Finally we have Fake This Dream which starts far too normally. Things soon get "normal" again with a very strident keyboard. Quite why it reminds me of Eno I just don't know. It does though. Skewed poppy rockabilly? Quite now I'm past caring.
Exhausting, but worth it.
Words: Richard Foster