Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Cravats - Dustbin of Sound (2017)

The return of the Cravats with a brand new album in 2017, a full quarter century after the last thing you could describe as such - which I suppose would have been Grimetime's Spirit of Disgust, sort of - probably qualifies as improbable, but perhaps not so improbable as the possibility of said brand new album being as good as it is; and it's very fucking good indeed.

The Cravats revivification looks a lot like some old spiky tops getting back together for one of those nostalgic festivals of which there suddenly seem to be so many, working out how to play the old hits, and in doing so noticing that the spark is still there; except that I'm guessing, and that this isn't quite the Cravats as were. The Shend is naturally still present and correct, or as correct as he's ever likely to be; and there's Svor Naan, with the rest having been reconstituted from remnants of the Astronauts, the Bevis Frond, the Joyce McKinney Experience and others. At first the thought of the Cravats without Robin Dalloway seems peculiar, and given the passage of time it all adds up to something which shouldn't work; and yet work it does.

The new lads are so well suited to the job at hand that it feels as though they've probably been there all along, at least in spirit, and thus Dustbin of Sound could never, ever be mistaken for anything other than a Cravats record; and if the absence of Dalloway is discernible in any shift of emphasis, then it's only because this is a different record, just as Motortown was different to The Bushes Scream, and The Bushes Scream was different to Toytown. This one's less jazzy than they've been, more of a growling motorbike beat, but still taking your ears places few other bands will tread through the magic of saxophone squiggles, angular guitar, and the Shend opening up your brain to reattach the wires to all the wrong nodules.

I'd pick out the best tracks, but they're all great with not a dud in earshot, although I suppose All U Bish Dumpers deserves some special commendation as the one which brings a tear to my eye.

The squirrel's role was to goad idiots
toward an unidentified trestle montage.
Chemical biscuit in Neptune franchise,
oh yes.
The mud and worm college closed for good in the 1440s
with the loss of hundreds of jam jars
Look at that rocket.
Look at that rocket.

Yes, I know, and yet it feels somehow like a protest song sung with genuine feeling, the sort of thing U2 would have given their collective left bollock to have written, but which will forever be beyond them because they lack imagination. Like everything else on this record, it's - not even round, but a toffee-hammer-mammoth-bassoon shaped peg in a world of square holes. With the levelled playing field of homogenised juxtaposition as entertainment, with our ever-shrinking imaginations responding to Lady Gaga momentarily pulling a face as sooooooo random LMFAO, the Cravats remain very much a liberating cry of genuine unreason, something too weird to ever be sold back to us as a Happy Meal, and this may even be their finest album.

You should order this one from Overground Records. In fact you should probably order everything from the Overground catalogue because they're fab.

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