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Posted on May 28th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Nick Manai

There is a noticeable gloss that adheres to the screeching guitars and rhythmic drumming on Cusses’ Here Comes the Rat EP. It is the gloss of a little extra elbow-grease, of one more take and probably semi-stable recording equipment.

There is, of course, something profoundly pretentious about scuzz, fuzz and low quality recording as a justification of accomplishment. This idea is quite different from using less than ideal recording equipment or including false takes and mistakes in a recording as a part of the aesthetic. One listen to the early Mountain Goats recordings or to the difference between an early Ramones track and a late Ramones track should convincingly convey the kinds of compelling voices imperfection can mark a track with. Unfortunately the extra attention paid to the songs on Rat precipitate another voice: awkward and self-conscious.

There is something about the fury and dissipation of the first track “Golden Rat” that doesn’t match its slick mix. To my ears the two aesthetics seem to be in conflict, as the vocals call and demand over the rip of the instrumentation the tonal quality reminds me of its place in time, a self-conscious ennui. At the song’s middle bridge a new imagination is wrought which changes the equation. The tuneful, yet pleading incantations seem more instep with a measured recording and a breeze of rediscovery is visible.

The remaining three songs struggle to bridge a similar divide. “Sally and Her Tassels” opens as more of an AC/DC arena shocker, with a surprisingly chorus built out of high vocal registers. The verses retain much of the aggression that can be categorized as punk and cut against the rest of the movement. Then there is “I’m Gonna Get You” whose silly title-chorus is further mocked by an obtuse guitar riffs and awkward handclaps. “Teenage Monster” rounds the set out and with its roving hook and shaking drums it cuts to the quick, announcing right of the bat what this song is really about.

Maybe it’s apathy for trying that has made the slick recording of Here Comes the Rat sound juvenile. Whatever it is, it certainly wastes no time announcing itself.

Track List:

  1. "Golden Rat"
  2. "Sally And Her Tassels"
  3. "I'm Gonna Get You"
  4. "Teenage Monster"
Cusses: Here Comes The Rat
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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