Posted on September 1st, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Nick Manai

For a band that takes thick, healthy bass notes, thundering drums and echoing guitar riffs as foundational material, the idea that Kagoule “represent the sound of boredom,” is a surprising claim. We expect a certain amount of headiness from the Yoda-slackers. Kurt Vile, Mac DeMarco and Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek have all spent entire songs dreaming away the day, only taking time to scribble a wise-crack or extol the virtues of their favorite cigarette. But for a band with a strain or two of metal in their DNA, getting down to the nitty-gritty of boredom could be more precarious. After all, strumming on a six-string doesn’t mean you have to get out of bed, while pounding away the positively furious bass line to “Adjust the Way” might even draw some perspiration.

Kagoule’s debut album isn’t boring, but it is certainly concerned with being stuck. Unfortunately, it isn’t as concerned with wondering why you’re stuck, how you’re stuck and what might be needed to get unstuck. The band says they decided on their name because it had an O in the middle and that would look good on posters, and that kind of unconcerned playfulness permeates through Urth’s heavy sonic walls. But it also seems like that kind of schoolyard rascal persona fits more concrete subjects. Treating politics, love or even getting high in the basement with that kind of flip-kid seriousness can be compelling, but boredom seems like it needs a personifier or two to help move the listener along.

Take this particularly opaque stanza from “It Knows It”: “Could it show it?/ Where do thoughts begin?/ Only flow along the grain/ And never seems to sink into it.” Or for more of a sense of the ritual boredom on Urth, see the song “Gush”: “I sat around and watched it all soak awful days/ Confuses everyone but still makes sense to me/ Awaiting here, awaiting reach/ Awaiting need.” I wouldn’t say I’m left confused; I get the sense of what they’re after, but I am still waiting here, waiting for them to reach me.

The musical arrangements do a pretty good job of rendering all of this more or less unnoticeable if you don’t want to notice it. Kagoule can even be downright creative in the way they bridge into and out of songs. If they stumble it’s usually around the chorus where their need to really, well, “rock” can force them into compromises. “Greenbeefo” and “Centralwing” mix post-punk language with inter-spliced hard-rock arena accents and are as compelling as they are ambitious. But aren’t there are a lot of really proficient hard rock bands out there? The last I checked there was no shortage of heavy guitar riffs and XXL bass drum fillers. It’s also a debut, and a pretty good one at that.

Track List:

  1. "Gush"
  2. "Against the Way"
  3. "Glue"
  4. "Damp Sand"
  5. "Empty Mug"
  6. "Greenbeefo"
  7. "Centralwing"
  8. "Made of Concrete"
  9. "Open Mouth"
  10. "Mike"
  11. "It Knows It"
Kagoule: Urth
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

65 / 100
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