Cassels are woke. That’s at least what the media surrounding their new album, The Perfect Ending, centres on.
Climate change, victim-blaming, the far-right, millenial liberalism, sexual assault. These are all lightning-rod topics in today’s climate and can either be addressed with a certain nuance, an unbridled rage or, more worryingly, a clumsy heavy-handedness.
Thankfully, it’s the first option with moments of the second more akin to a passive-aggression than outright rage. Either way, there is definitely a sense of outrage throughout this simmering-pot of neo-post-punk.
Where the band cite Modest Mouse and Shellac as influences aren’t too much for a far stretch either. Pinning your heart or influences on your sleeve, especially when they’re critically lauded names within the post-punk and noise scene, can be quite the reach.
But the British duo manages to honour those acts throughout their music. Jim Beck’s vocals are that matter-of-fact, stream-of-conscious-thought that Steve Albini punches through the ominous undertones of Shellac with at times. The other times, it’s the earnest, discordant art-rock approach of Modest Mouse, pre “Float On”.
The beauty of The Perfect Ending is how it flits between two very different eras of post-punk. “The Leaking Ark”, for example, would fit nicely within a playlist composed of Modest Mouse, Polvo and the mid-90s group of musicians that, perhaps, were partially inspired by the emo scene that was in full swing.
Then you get the album’s title track, “The Perfect Ending” or “Queue At The Chemist”, which sits alongside the pantheon of works by Mission of Burma, The Fall and The Wedding Present. It’s that off-kilter, “somewhat” aggrieved approach that informed post-punk throughout the decades to come. Sardonic, wry, but with an incredibly provoking thought behind it.
For a band coming into their dreaded “second album”, their label Big Scary Monsters‘ have done themselves a huge service in working with Cassels. This is the kind of musical output that cuts through the raft of other alternative acts and is an incredible declaration of intent.
If Cassels’ are what is to come from a newer post-punk revival scene, then it’s an exciting and intriguing time to pour back into the old discography once again. This is what music should be – challenging for some yet somehow palatable for even the most sceptical.
The Perfect Ending is out September 6th through Big Scary Monsters.