So here’s me, on the Tube, replaying the same two albums over and over, often on only a single journey. I make no secret of my occasional passionate adoration of records that deliver their loads fast and furiously, full of ugly organ bluster and top-end bombast, but at this particular moment, in the year of our Lord 2006, I find myself alternating between a pair of records that are, in some respects, incredibly similar, yet that couldn’t be more different when assessed from alternative points of view.
Both tick a number of those boxes, the ones the casual listener will still associate with The Locust, and maybe Trencher, too. The solution to my which-to-cover-first woes? DO BOTH. AT THE SAME TIME. AND WRITE IN CAPITALS. It’s what they’d want…
An Albatross ('singer' Eddie B, pictured) are American, Cutting Pink With Knives are not – hazard some kind of guess as to which has, thus far, earned more column inches in the British music press? If you answered with the latter, more-brilliantly-monikered act, you’re sadly wrong: the insider’s observation that acts from across the sea generally earn more credibility points than their domestic cousins in UK magazines does indeed ring true, as An Albatross have curried much favour to date whereas Cutting Pink have, generally, been but a name loitering towards the bottom of around-London-town flyers. Even though the pair have played on the same bill – most recently at London’s Upstairs at the Garage – one predominantly hogs the media’s attention. Well NO LONGER (hey, capitals again! COOL!). I say: toss’ em in together, strip ‘em off and toss in a few bottles of baby oil. Alternatively, read that as “compare their albums and form some semblance of a conclusion as to which is the better band”. Either way, GAME ON.
Both albums are available NOW. Kinda. You can pre-order An Albatross' album from the Ace Fu website; it's out later in June.
Which album packs the most incredibly ridiculous-so-therefore-so-very-cool-to-hardcore kids titles?
Good question! And one that only you, the individual, can truly judge. The Americans are peculiarly adept at bizarre titular behaviour, as that album title surely attests to, but Cutting Pink have a few trumps up their ragged sleeves: ‘Didi Got Fisted At The Smiths Disco’, ‘Everytime I Put On Pornography I Want To Die’ and ‘Merry Fucking Christmas, You Spineless Fuck’ are but three absolute gems on an album full of immensely repeatable track titles. An Albatross (cover pictured, left) are restricted by a conceptual framework that sees song titles bear some relation to their parent album name: ‘In the Court Of The Bear King’ and ‘Feastgiver’ certainly tie in rather with the aforementioned long-player’s nomenclature. Elsewhere, though, An Albatross deviate from an already ridiculous path quite brilliantly. ‘Lysergically Yours, My Psychedelic Bride’ and ‘Divine Birthrite (Maiden Voyage of the Grape Ape)’ see them wrap this particular category’s contest up in double-quick time. Well, unless you think otherwise, as per that opening sentence. Ah fuck what you think… SCORES!
Which album is the shortest, and therefore more likely to go around a dozen-or-so times on a single train journey?
Good question! And one that only the stereo can answer. So, without further ado: Cutting Pink’s ‘long-player’ clocks in at 22 minutes and 42 seconds, including a concluding track that stretches to over ten minutes; An Albatross, meanwhile, serve up 18 tracks in 27 minutes and 12 seconds, which is no mean feat bearing in mind that Cutting Pink’s Oh Wow! runs to just 13 songs. Tis no contest then, surely? Shirley? See, she agrees…
Which album is gonna make me dance like a mescaline-addled chimpanzee at a seventies-themed roller disco, on the moon, with hit-and-miss gravity, while sucking sherbet lemons and dabbing acid tabs onto my moistened ear lobes?
Good question! Seriously, you’re on fire right now, me. Well, while An Albatross do have the whole likely-to-make-a-chimp-bust-a-move thing down to an absolute art form, as was brilliantly evident at a recent live performance, Cutting Pink’s ADHD-teenager-given-a-vat-load-of-Red-Bull sonic exuberance is likely to have said chimp’s granddaddy up and out of his Tarzan-branded hammock like a Roman Candle spurting into fiery delight on the eve of that almost-burnt-down-Westminster celebration. Indeed, Oh Wow! is so brilliantly detached from the unexpected, even, that its collision of glitch-fevered beats and stab-frenzy guitars simply can’t fail to impress from a go-wild-in-the-urban-jungle perspective. WASSAT? Yeah, I need a sit down, too…
Which album is devilishly complex enough for me to impress my muso mates with while also having a sneaky laugh behind their back at the absolute ludicrousness of what I’ve just played to them?
Seriously good question, and one that has but one simple, on-the-money answer: An Albatross. Blessphemy… might sound like a load of ol’ noise to your thick-eared dad, born and bred on a diet of lughole-rupturing Zeppelin and senses-scrambling Floyd, but if you tune your synapses in just right, nice and acute, tiny complexities become apparent, AND WONDERFULLY SO. Brilliant they are: this album is – without wanting to dress it up in the Emperor’s new clothes, where such praise is as transparent as the credibility dished out by Heat magazine – like some fantastic collision between early Genesis and Yes and Napalm Death, Dillinger Escape Plan and, oh I don’t know, Animal Collective purely based on its free-spiritedness. It’s a million and one bands squeezed into a bottle, shaken and sprayed across a smiling face. Cutting Pink , meanwhile, basically bludgeon out the same (albeit great) idea twelve times, only adding any real variation on the established theme come their lengthy closer. Not that its entire duration warrants your attention, mind…
Which album, if each of its drum beats were a single spotlight, flashing in time, would have a hardcore epileptic writhing in an unprecedented fit after roughly five minutes of air time?
Is that a serious question? I mean, it’s hardly pleasant, is it? These albums aren’t either? Fair point. Only one winner here: Cutting Pink. Oh Wow! (pictured, left) is so gloriously splattered, each song slashed wide open and allowed to spill its electronic guts across a perfect marble floor, bloody and strikingly brilliant, that it does leave the listener in a state comparable to a fit. It is on Adaadat, after all. Convulsions and spitting, swearing and thrashing: these are actions your body will have no control over. Well, if you’ve consumed eight pints and a dodgy chicken shish, anyway. Which I haven’t – just the six – so sorry I don’t know what you’re trying to ask here.
Which album, if assessed purely on its aesthetic appeal, would look cooler on my shelf?
Good question! After all, every one of us buys-a-lot-of-records-to-seem-cool sorts collects rather than consumes, so chances are that at least eight per cent, based on recently published government figures, won’t actually play either of these albums should they see fit to part with cash for them. Cutting Pink win, anyway, as they’ve got some nice comic-book graphics on the cover, a la Bullet Union’s album, and I like Bullet Union. So that’s that. Oh, and no there are no real government figures; then again, since when has there been a real government? What?
Which album then, based on the above categories, is the best? I’ve not read the last 1,000-or-so words to get fobbed off with some ‘just as good as each other’ bullshit. This is HARDCORE you fuck! Yeah, capitals AND italics. Now fuckin’ spill…
Well, based purely on the scores above, divided neatly by six, the overall scores look something like this. Well, I say something: these are actually the exact scores, albeit rounded up (or down) so as not to fill the screen with pointless mean-nothing digits. Yeah. Sorry, what was the question? Case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not entirely sober… oh, yes…
An Albatross: 7.8 out of 10
Cutting Pink With Knives: 8.2 out of 10
Hooray! Home victory - Cutting Pink celebrate above - against all the pre-match odds! I’m off to drown my non-existent sorrows in more warm lager while contorting my brittle body like some sort of neurologically rotten squirrel trying to juggle horse chestnuts whilst riding a matchstick unicycle around a flowerbed of FIRE. Yeah! OH WOW. Oh gosh I need to sleep…