Young Knives - Sick Octave

A tricky puzzle from the Leicestershire trio.

Label: Gadzook

Rating:

Much like the in-yer-face presence of salted caramel in absolutely everything at the moment, Kickstarter is also on many lips as the go-to method for films, theatre productions and even albums getting the green light on funding and forging ahead. So, having downsized from a major label to a self-created one, The House of Lords and chums return for some more indie oddball shenanigans on their fourth album, thanks to the wonders of crowd-sourced funding.

While it may seem unusual that a previously established band (nominated for a Mercury, no less) is going down this road, it does come with the benefits of adhering to a DIY punk ethos and a feel-good vibe from the collaborative nature of it all. Plus, it allows the band to deliver ‘a completely undiluted Young Knives record’, as they promised their fans who showed them the money for ‘Sick Octave’.

And a completely undiluted experience it is. The Leicestershire trio run riot like inmates taking over the asylum and build on the indie-outfit-goes-electro of their last album, with highly idiosyncratic results. Opener ‘Owls of Athens’ kicks off promisingly with a commanding and energetically infused synth line, drum machine and playful flourishes of brass, before Henry Dartnall’s cold, watery vocals complete the lineup – but it’s only one of the few truly structured tracks. The Talking Heads-ish ‘All Tied Up’ in contrast is a crash, bang, wallop of proggy strangeness; less a song than an experiment in sonic textures. ‘White Sands’, which it segues into seamlessly on the other hand, is its more restrained cousin and far better for it, whilst ‘Marble Maze’ sounds the closest to the straightforward postmodern guitar racket they first started out with, with no SFX adorning Dartnall’s stabby, portentous tones. And perhaps timely, with Halloween on the horizon, ‘Something Awful’’s discordant intro, odd, creeping time signature and bloodless vocals intoning ‘I can feel that I’m changing… into something awful’ has a delicious Vincent Price sinisterism about it, partly about a grandparent’s Alzheimer’s, but expanded more broadly into a commentary on metamorphosis and turning into a ‘super killer monster’.

In all, ‘Sick Octave’ is a tricky puzzle and there’s no obvious ‘She’s Attracted To’ or ‘Turn Tail’ moments to make you sit up and take notice. It’s not indie, it’s not electro and it’s not pop. But it is, most definitely, a Young Knives Record.

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