May 20, 2024

CASSELS – “EPITHET” – as angry and as yet focused an album as I’ve ever heard

BIG SCARY MONSTERS      6th October 2017

Punk? Post-punk? I dunno. It’s noisy, very varied and right. It just sounds right and politically, it’s spot-on. It comes from the heart and art from the heart just sounds right.

Sometimes guitar churns, always drums hurtle. This duo of very young looking lads make an extremely self-aware and astute sound, whilst thrashing it up in a proper DIY fashion. For a taste, just grab the opening track, Coup. It laments apathy, ignorance, poverty and yet acknowledges how easy it is to slack off and “illegally stream the latest blockbuster”. They speak for those “caught somewhere between the living and minimum wage”. In Let, they drop in an edited recording of Churchill’s 1941 “never give up” speech, not long after referencing Aldous Huxley. Polymaths!

Packed full of righteous anger, it spits out of their fingertips and tongues, often spoken / declaimed as much as sung, when anger or existential sadness drives the mood. The control of fuzz guitar, crunchy chords and atmosphere is tight and the album is a weaponised tool for inspiration.

Youths stuck at home are simultaneously lamented as impoverished and lambasted as lazy. Britain is described as the home of the ignorant and arrogant. Some Brexit anger here. Thoughtcrime! The population is slammed for blaming Nestle and Disney for how our kids grow up. On their home town, Chipping Norton, they say “Every tweed-clad soul I despise and hate / Crawled by in a procession of top-of-the-line Range Rovers / with personalised number plates”. There’s no love for anyone here, not till the war against cruelty and stupidity is won.

Jim Beck, lyricist, says “There’s the old cliché that good lyrics stand up on a page without music, but in reality I don’t think many read well at all. At some point I made the conscious decision to try and write words which could be read in isolation without them being obviously identifiable as being from a song.” And he succeeded.

This is as angry and as yet focused an album as I’ve ever heard.

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