Racing away from the playful torn edge of no-wave song, Kaputt blurt out tracks with twitchy charisma, their catchy riffs circle with relish, allowing timely sax stonks and stop-start rhythms to drive things on. Vocals leap, guitars bluster and always the saxophone snakes, hypnotically drawn through the erratic beat. There’s a riot of fun at play in their febrile racket, but there’s also some deeply cerebral grooves and choice lyrical concerns evident too.
The songs on ‘Carnage Hall’, Kaputt’s debut album released by Upset The Rhythm this September, were all written in Glasgow between 2016-2018. Following on from the independence referendum and the subsequent Brexit vote these songs couldn’t help but be influenced by the maelstrom of political hypocrisy and confusion in the air. Other themes prevalent on this energetic corkscrew of an album include the offbeat happenchance of life in 2019, notions of surveillance, identity (personal as well as the biscuit-tin styled persona of the Scottish Highlands), industrialisation and family. There’s a lot of room left for things to turn quietly surreal too. Title track ‘Carnage Hall’ is about an alternative dimension in which Judy Garland’s famous Carnegie Hall show, (one of the group’s favourite albums), was a total bust rather than the roaring success it proved to be. In deciding to call the record ‘Carnage Hall’ the band wanted to reflect on this “deeply uncertain and deeply unstable, odd political time… maybe we are all in an alternative dimension, all living in the Carnage Hall at this moment” alludes Donnelly.
Album opener ‘Rats’ with its refrain of “it’s so much darker now” is a crumpled twist of song. Explosive, ruminative and content to bemuse with a loose political allegory drawn out from a dank pet shop. ‘Accordion’ lilts with more breezy tendency, “forward, forward, I’m always moving forward” they collectively sing as if affirming their musical manifesto. Kaputt excel at fidgety, speedy outpourings of ideas, their songs zap by, multifaceted and bejewelled with detail and colour. ’Parsonage Square’ is another great example of this, it’s a song about public access, panopticons and paranoia hurtled into a motley rip of melody that feels very much like a fairground ride being cranked up a gear. Meanwhile ‘Suspectette’ concerns itself with Mary Weiss of the The Shangri-Las’ FBI file. ‘Think About Your Face’ investigates those certain grimaces made in passionate embrace. Bizarre and wonderfully outlandish, Kaputt enjoy keeping things as unpredictable as the tempo of each song.
Kaputt are skilled practitioners of emotional sleight of hand too, whilst each song on ‘Carnage Hall’ whirls by in frenzied fashion, burning bright with purpose, the group’s lyrics pull you into people’s lives, often damaged, often running low on options. ‘Highlight’ is an a-grade anthem doubling up as an eulogy for shipbuilding, ‘Drinking Problems Continue’ parts 1 and 2 are about Ullapool and generational holidays spent watching “the sun set on the ferry”. “This could be your life” attest Kaputt on the deliriously labyrinthine ‘Very Satisfied’. ‘Carnage Hall’ is an empathic album dealing with memory and place, but most importantly with people. “Swallow your thumbprints” demand the band in rampant stomper ‘Hi, I’m The Wasp’. Maybe this is all the push we need to drop tired notions of belonging. This record asks us to clasp dear what makes us connect with each other over division. It’s searching for an open window to slip through away from Carnage Hall and into the next parallel world, one where we have a chance.
‘Carnage Hall’ was recorded and mixed by Luigi Pasquini in Anchor Lane Studios in Glasgow in spring 2019, before being mastered this summer by John Hannon at No Studios. Caio Wheelhouse worked with the band on the artwork. ‘