Despite building their sound upon the commonly viewed blueprints of grunge, the arrival of the Nottingham trio Kagoule felt like the arrival of the warm winds of change when they released their debut Urth in 2015. A self-confused tribute to the attitudes, aesthetics and stylings of genre that has always remained influential, the record introduced us to an act who were never afraid to deter from roads of convention and pursue more eccentric endeavors. Despite remaining in the hearts of the underground DIY dwellers, the group have seen some serious coverage over the past several years, with the group receiving praise from BBC Radio 1, Rolling Stone and NME and playing the likes of Glastonbury and other lofty stages. Whilst the pressures of acclaim may be the catalyst for severe pressures for a number of bands, it appears Kagoule have brushed off such intoxicating praise without second thought, with their sophomore record Strange Entertainment remaining loyal to the foundations in which they have built themselves.
Recorded in two separate sessions due the act running out of money, a fact the trio address with humour and honesty, Strange Entertainment shuns convention once again and pursues a sound that’s intriguing, curious and delightfully fresh. It’s a record that truly represents the subtle outsider mentality of this act, with a blanketing aura of DIY sensibilities. Written on a single acoustic guitar, and demoed in GarageBand prior to mixing, whilst more grandiose and industry standard practices could have been undoubtedly taken, it’s not in the nature of this act to do so. Rather than attempting a more grandiose stance, a path that the majority of emerging acts attempt to navigate in order to offer something ground-breaking, the act have chosen a more lo-fi approach to this record, one that is forefront but never playing to the negative assumptions of such an approach. Despite it’s background, Strange Entertainment sounds colossal and presents it’s curious eccentrics with spectacular colour and clarity.
Opening with the sickly and slinky grooves of ‘Egg Hunt’ prior to the angular vocal hooks and summer scented freshness of lead single ‘Bad Saliva’, there’s a sense of newfound confidence and composure within this offering when compared to its predecessor. The shifting, wavering vocals of frontman Cai Burns feel more bolstered and assured, not fearing the judgements from their more current and straight peers. However, when the vocals of Burns intermingles with the soulful and self-assured vocal work of Lucy Hatter, as evident on ‘Superhuman’ and the slow burning drone and reverb of ‘Magnified’, the contrast is magic and deeply contemplative.
In relation to the eccentric nature of this band, there appears to be a more considered utilization of progression running under the surface of this release, animating the contemporary aesthetics which remain forefront. From the dizzying disjointed beat of ‘Balance’ to the atypical and ominous nature of ‘Repent! Said The Insect Man’, Kagoule feel no fear in addressing their underlining outlandish nature, with the group taking influences from progressive grunge, the DIY scene and kitsch pop culture. Even when the group tackle big and bone rattling walls of noise such as the grit infused ‘Monsieur Automation’ such an approach feels researched, educated and innovative.
In all, Strange Entertainment is the perfect moniker for this release. Outlandish and mentally provoking, it’s a record that not only proves that reserved creativity is still rife in the alt scene, it’s one that solidifies the fact that Kagoule will never depart their roots even with the whirlwinds of praise.
Strange Entertainment is released 26th October via Alcopop! Records