Hoorahland – The Cravats (reviewed by Marcus Kittridge)

Sometimes an artist never really finds their own personal voice. This is definitely not the case with The Cravats. Their unique combination of synchronous sax and guitar coupled with the articulate vocal style is as individual now as it was over four decades ago.

There are very few bands that can incorporate a saxophone without resembling the soundtrack to a seventies soft porn film. In that regard, The Cravats have always lived in the rarified company of X-Ray Spex, The Blockheads and The Pop Group.

Some might consider The Cravats to be a nostalgia or heritage band. They might have in excess of 40 years “experience” but both live and recorded output is scarce and as such is always received as a much overdue and welcome treat.

I am in the very lucky position of having seen a recent and rare Cravats gig in Bristol where they played most of the new album in a blistering fifty minute set which is jolly useful additional data when you’re asked to review a new album.

This album begins with a piece of pure vaudeville. Goody Goody Gum Drops has a grotesque fairground feel that draws you in like an unwilling victim dragged kicking and screaming into an adult Scooby Doo nightmare.

The album continues its relentless combination of power and horror with its trademark rhythmic onslaught gathering pace and intensity along the way. Rarely is the listener allowed any time to catch a breath. Now The Magic Has Gone is a macabre mix of tales of the unexpected with Jello Biafra adding cartoon like vocal outbursts to counterpoint the vocal melody. Fiendishly good.

Relatively light relief is offered by way of Good For You, a melancholy more pedestrian adventure but still heavy on the dark themes that pervade throughout the album.

The closing and title track is a complex cacophony of prog rock, post punk, post rock and mathrock. Any fans of The Cardiacs would love this track and probably the whole album but would never admit it of course.

Has anyone ever seen The Enid’s Robert John Godfrey and The Cravats singer, The Shend together. I very much doubt they have. And if they did, I guess the Universe might just implode.

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