Describing their first album 'Urth' as “an ode to grunge”, Kagoule’s frontman Cai Dixon has now changed his inspirational focus while still keeping the band firmly entrenched in the sounds of the early 90s. Noticeably less heavy this time around, 'Strange Entertainment' (produced by MJ Hookworms, mixed by tour buddies’ Spring King’s Tarek Musa), is much more of a ‘proper indie’ album than could have been expected. Most importantly, it shows a band that are very comfortable in their own skin, happy to remain unique rather than follow the crowd.
Moments into ‘Egg Hunt’, as the stop-start tempo matches Dixon’s vocal delivery step for step, it feels like everything about Kagoule has been stripped down and rebuilt from scratch by a computer. Lawrence English’s drumming feels beamed in from another galaxy, unusual rhythms and patterns forming while bassist Lucy Hatter’s grooves hark back to classic post-punk. Themes of battles with self-esteem and anxieties are concealed within fantasy and sci-fi references, making for an intriguing listen that gets trippier the deeper you get.
Not afraid to ramp up the pace and power, highlights like ‘Too New Too Soon’ hit home in a manner that the album would have benefited from more of. Hatter’s vocals add a whole new flavour and depth throughout, shaking up a more low and steady delivery from Dixon. Lots of angular musical turns follow, but at times it all lies just a little too far out of reach and in need of some form of hook or that big track. Asking “Is it progression or is it de-evolution?” on ‘Monsieur Automaton’, the answer for Kagoule is absolutely the former - though it will be fascinating to watch them evolve even further.