A Gut Feeling by Cassels
4 Feb 2022
If the Streets' Mike Skinner had gone to art college and fallen in love with punk but always been too scared to commit to a mohawk or an earring his music might have sounded strangely similar to this current era of Cassels. This week see's the release of the Oxfordshire duos third studio album and their first full length release since 2019. Will Jim and Loz manage to tear your spotty, public school face off with A Gut Feeling or will it barely draw your attention away from that second hand Jack Kerouac you are pretending to read?
Only the most confident of artists would open an album with an 8 and a half minute experimental, garage punk saga but that is what the Beck brothers have done with A Gut Feeling. Opening track Your Humble Narrater incorporates grimey guitar riffs, repetitive drum breaks and an oddly thought provoking spoken word that is so out of place you start to question whether you heard it at all. An achievement not to be overlooked here is managing to stretch the delivery of the word 'Lesson' over 17 seconds. It has to be heard to be believed.
Lyrically Cassels have taken a third person narrative approach to the majority of this record. Track names such as Family Visits Relative and Dog Drops Bone give a flavour of some of the complex subject matter addressed. Joking aside the lyrical content is relateable and mostly light hearted. For what is essentially spoken word the majority of the time the vocals actually keep the listener quite engaged and Jim really does a great job of mixing up the intonation and delivery.
Jim's guitar approach throughout is to lean heavily in to the riffs. Pete's Vile Colleagues has a grunge-esque, distorted sound with a simple muted motif repeated under the verses. A similar technique is applied in the garage rock powerhouse Charlie Goes Skiing whereas on Sarah Misses Them the notes ring out to provide a much fluffier, melancholic tone.
Loz Beck makes a fierce impression from start to finish by jumping between countless styles and rythms proving that this young drummer has got the versatility and skill to carry Cassels in to the bigger leagues. Much like his brothers vocal performance Loz continually surprises with unexpected breaks, fast fills and double time choruses.
Cassels have clearly shaped their identity with this record and if there is one consistency throughout it is their own unique style. Most tracks on A Gut Feeling are 4 times too long to be considered punk but they are clever arrangements that are captivating both instrumentally and vocally. It's a thoroughly enjoyable listen that will put a smile on your face more than once. Any wordsmith that can successfully stitch the word 'self-flagellate' in to a song deserves at least some of our attention. The album is out now so please take a listen and let me know what you think.