In an age that we’re told what to listen to by Capital Radio pushing their YouTube ads of Will.I.Am and The Wanted at us all, it can be refreshing, even for an audience with an increasingly pop taste to hear something that’s both nostalgic and forward thinking in terms of modern rock and roll.
Of course, rock and roll these days is sold to us on the front cover of the NME as Alex Turner’s quiffed head stares deeply into our souls, as he queries those who gave his band the Brits limelight and those who, en masse bought tickets to a huge Finsbury Park show alike “R U Mine?” Most of us look back with moderate tentativeness, before admitting that yes, we probably are. For bands like Artcic Monkeys, Foals and Kasabian, it’s been a lucky ride at times. Kasabian themselves admitted that their signing and huge promotional drive felt like being the last band to jump on the lifeboats to success whilst Sheffield and Oxford’s finest used the new-fangled media that was MySpace and relentless efforts of playing solid shows to make it off the sinking ship that we call the music industry. Once in a while, bands like The Vaccines, Mumford & Sons and The1975 are allowed to swim to the safety of Brixton Academy and beyond, but by that point, they’re just pop bands for those living in the aftermath of Generation X.
Now, it’s not like a reviewer is going to tell you that, amongst the colossal pile of what’s often referred to as landfill, Cheatahs are the one band you can count on; but when you take a live show as energetic as the London band’s (see aforementioned The Vaccines mixed with the relaxed anarchy of MBV) and mix it with the kind of sounds that we hear from slightly grimier success stories (see Blood Red Shoes and Drenge) of recent times; it can be accepted of you to vanish into a pile of fuzz pedals and declare your Topshop-purchased Nirvana t-shirt to be part of your gateway down the slippery slope to the last track of this, Cheatahs debut and eponymous record.
Perfect? Far from it. The production possibly leaves out more edge than you’d desire from a record of such distortion to do whilst lyrically, there’s not so much as a whisper of poetry from the majority. Of course, it’s difficult to demand from shoegaze-influenced modern-rock, but if Sonic Youth could occasionally touch the heartstrings, you’d like an inkling of it from this record. It, after all, is a debut; something pained over through teenage years of angst and bad decisions.
This then, is the start. Lord only knows what it’s the start of, but for Cheatahs, let’s hope it’s the start of something that lasts. When you can centre a record around two singles (The Swan and Cut the Grass) that don’t even sound similar, the sky can be the limit. Here’s hoping there’s another raft on its way that will pick up these feline rule-breakers.