Review Summary: It's 2011. A post-punk album is an AOTY contender. Surely a sign of the coming Apocalypse.
It’s not often an indie rock band manages to impress. Let’s face it; most of these lo-fi garage rock/post-punk revival bands pretty much sound exactly the same as the bands they’re taking their inspiration from. So when you happen to stumble upon some Swedish, underground band being described as ‘lo-fi post-punk’, it’s hard not to make a grimace and go “d’aww, how cute! They think they’re special little snowflakes!”. Well, I’ll have to swallow my words; Where’s The Harm In Dreams Disarmed
is actually an excellent piece of fuzzed-out indie rock.
Yes, we might as well just get it out of the way now. Cut City
’s influences are obvious and substantial. They take inspiration from a wide variety of post-punk bands, but the most obvious influences are without a doubt Bauhaus
, Echo and The Bunnymen
and Joy Division
(how original!). But don’t let that scare you off. Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that a song like Cults Revisited
is essentially She’s Lost Control
in wolf’s clothing, but when that is more or less the only misstep on the entire album, there’s a lot to love and a lot to talk about. Just like Interpol
managed to do on their soon to be 10 year old debut, Cut City
condense their influences into something wholly enjoyable. The excellence on display also has a lot to do with the songwriting. Where’s The Harm In Dreams Disarmed
sounds – like the name would imply – dreamy, but not in a ‘cute’ way. The band’s sound is a mix between the calm and the aggressive; the somber and the noisy; the ambient and the direct. It’s a varied sound that makes you think, constantly surprises you and provides for an engaging and rewarding listen.
“So what is it that makes this album so damn good?”
you might be wondering by now. It’s a fair question. Post-punk revival – like so many other movements of music – became oversaturated with bands that made little effort to distinguish themselves. If you weren’t copying Interpol
, you were probably just copying some other band. It’s a damn shame, for had this album been released when the movement was at its peak, Cut City
could very well have become a household name in the genre. That’s how excellent this is.
Talking about individual songs wouldn’t make much sense, as most of them segue into one another through noisy, ambient passages that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Godspeed You! Black Emperor
album. But there are certainly highlights to be found. The opening track Void
is downright excellent; an ambient soundscape saturates the musical landscape with noise as each instrument makes their entrance to the sound - until the bubble finally bursts; the track explodes into a gigantic wave of dreamy guitars, driving bass and high-tempo drumming. The track passes by in an instant, overwhelming you and leaving you with a giant smile on your face. Thankfully, not every track on the album is quite as intense as Void
. Some of the best tracks are the slower, less pummeling tracks like A Modest Recovery
that basically sounds like Editors
– but better (and noisier) – and The Kids Of Masochism High
, perhaps the best track on the entire album. But whether Cut City
decide to play fast or slow, dreamy or dreary, light or heavy, doesn’t make a difference: they manage to grip your attention right away and they grip it tightly for the duration of the almost perfectly paced 43 minutes on display. After smashing its way through 8 excellent tracks, the album finishes off with class; a 10 minute, 3 part song closes the album off, sending a cascade of dreamy noise through your speakers for 5 minutes before disappearing, leaving only the same noise playing that started the album. It has come full circle. Sadly, I almost feel like it should’ve been longer.
Behold! The year is 2011 and we may have an AOTY contender on our hands. Cut City
have managed the seemingly impossible. They have written a post-punk album that manages to sound old and fresh at the same time. Like their fellow Scandinavian friends in Iceage
, they embrace everything that made post-punk such a good genre, but they put their own spin on it and, most importantly, they do it with confidence. If you enjoy post-punk, this is an album you need to hear – now.