Review Summary: The last will and testament of a great band.
With this EP, The Casket Lottery faded out of the underground music scene, leaving behind a gap that none can fill. Their unique brand of searing indie rock managed to show its influences and yet sound completely original.
However, it helps a little that Smoke And Mirrors is absolutely brilliant.
'Come Sweet Revenge' is one of the hardest songs the Kansas City boys have ever made, with Nathan Ellis's raw cries of 'In time / Come sweet revenge' sending a chill down the listener's spine and electrifying them in the same moment. A pared-down slice of raw, punk-esque fury, the guitars are brash and crunching, and the song presents The Casket Lottery's wiry intensity at its very best. An outstanding opening song.
'On the Air', to be perfectly honest, is a strong contender for the best track that the trio have ever recorded. It is also very catchy, the slick, excellent production giving every instrument its own space and allowing them to interplay brilliantly. The almost-funky, syncopated guitars are inflected with delay in the verses and ring out with jangly lushness in the chorus, and Stacy Hilt's groovy basslines complement them with consummate precision. The song is so good that you'd be forgiven for sitting back and treating it like a really wicked piece of poppy rock music, but to do so would be to miss out on some of the best lyrics in the band's catalogue. Even though the song is brilliantly catchy enough to be on the airwaves, it is a pointed and razor-sharp diatribe against the mainstream music industry, ringing true now more than ever; Turn the radio off /It's just commercials made by stars / Turn down the auto-tune / And reveal those wounds and scars / It's all middle fingers and sex / And who's ego can hold the most.' You could buy the EP just for this one song - I cannot recommend it enough.
'Ten Years' returns to the nose-bursting rock of 'Come Sweet Revenge', with Ellis's guitars being punishing and harmonious in the same moment. His throat-ripping screams are a rush of pure adrenaline, but they are used as spice rather than a main ingredient, which makes their inclusion all the more clever and inventive. Another good song.
'Smoke and Mirrors' is the EP's swan song, and it occupies the space between 'On the Air' and 'Come Sweet Revenge' in that it rocks hard, but somehow glitters with sweet melodies. The song soars through its five minute span in a style that is often attempted, but not done quite as fantastically well as The Casket Lottery do it here, smouldering and then flaring up like a fire that's been doused with petrol.
These four songs signal the last that's been heard from a truly original and unique band. They need to be in your collection, but if you still need convincing, get 'On the Air'. Listen to it. That should be enough.