Kaputt appeared on our radar when we reviewed the fantastic Highlight!/Suspectette single. We said we “could be due quite the album from them”. Well they’ve now returned to treat us with said album ‘Carnage Hall.’ It features both sides of the single, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a strutting, confident, monster of a debut.
If you’re into the weird side of no wave, new wave and punk this is definitely for you.
Rats opens on a “Close To Me” drum beat with catchy guitar and bass interplay. The phrase “It’s so much darker now” is intersected by a Captain Beefheart style false start before the song launches into a hip shaking saxophone driven section. The song twists and turns over itself whilst vocalist Cal Donelly’s Fred Schneider meets David Byrne by way of Devo vocal delivery is incredibly captivating. In some sense we could end this review here.
The whole cocktail of this band is infectious. They frequently pack so many ideas into just over three minutes. It’s great party music.The rolling cyclical 5/4 riff of Carnage Hall is phenomenal. The sax wanders through the song, shifting and expanding the rhythm before everything breaks down into a section that sounds bizarrely similar to the theme to the 90s computer game Day Of The Tentacle (sorry that’s nerdy). Everything then descends into what is almost like a frantic, warped Madness ending.
Accordion sounds at first like it is going to be a more relaxed affair with its tremolo arm guitar chords and meandering sax.
It then flips into a spiky angular stomp with great guitar interplay. Donelly’s growl of “Is he a man now? Is he a man now?” just sounds awesome. The dual male female vocals complement each other really well, adding to the party vibe.Very Satisfied has Jon Spencer attitude, B52s backing vocals, skittering Magic Band rhythms and guitars in the verses while the chorus is pure Devo.Highlight! has a great percussion intro, with guitars building from sparse to frantic before the rhythmic bubble bursts and expands into yet another catchy chorus.
Hi! I’m the Wasp has a crazed intro followed by a verses with a super infectious groove and wonderful brass flourishes. The chorus hook is colourful and cyclical with stunning backing vocals. It’s cartoonish, in a good way.Parsonage Square again combines a Devo-like sense of fun (“Are you ready for my examination?”) with B52s backing vocals, the drums are tight and fast, driving the momentum while the guitars dance, the bassline is great and the sax provides a glorious melodic counterpoint.
The two parts of Drinking Problems Continue, the first being a short spoken word piece built over an abstract crescendo that is the only moment of respite from Kaputt’s frenetic energy, the second almost veering into afrobeat, with the muted guitar hooks and skittering drums. As with other tracks the song fidgets into different directions, expanding and contracting, this time into brilliant melodic climax using the track’s title.
Thinking About Your Face (While You’re Doing It) is bonkers. Excuse the pun. It jumps about all over the place with yelped vocals and is probably the most atonal moment on ‘Carnage Hall’.You Are Buried With My Nose is lyrically bizarre and provides a moment of hilarity at the end of the first chorus, with the high pitched vocal squeal, that reminded us of sadly departed London oddballs Chubby Nest.
The vibrato sax part towards the end is just so good.
Suspectette brings big Talking Heads vibes. There’s great interplay between instruments and nice slide guitar touches. The parts are minimal but come together to make an intricate web. Finally, Feed My Son is a rousing closer. It’s punchy, quite funky, with the jagged edges of Contortions era James Chance and rounds off an almost relentless collection of party tunes. Kaputt are one of those bands that just sound like so much fun to be a member of.
You may enjoy this if you like: B52s, Talking Heads, Plastics, James Chance, Captain Beefheart, Devo, Madness, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, DUDS