Cower - Boys | Album Review

Not ones to rest on their laurels after releasing music with various projects this year, Wayne Adams (PETBRICK/Big Lad) and Gareth Thomas (USA Nails/Silent Front) have joined forces to create yet another noise laden album in 2020. This time they are joined by another well known face on the U.K. circuit, Thomas Lacey (Yards/The Ghost of a Thousand) in new outfit Cower. With a lot of free time on their hands this year and access to Wayne’s well regarded Bear Bites Horse Studio and the backing of new charitable label HUMAN WORTH why not dip into new musical territories and flex their expansive experience? 10% of the proceeds also going to a great cause of The Hackney Foodbank. After an ‘intensive period of writing, recording and recrimination’ they have brewed up material much more in the darker realms of their prowess.

Opener ‘Tight Trousers And A Look Of Intent’ sets the tone and musical theme of goth-noise. Unnerving buzz and wavering electronics, a simple bass and drum rhythm underpin a vocal style we have not heard from Thomas before. Much softer and ethereal tones similar to 80s goth-wave artists such as Lycia add a disturbing layer. The song cut in half with a moment of pure nightmarish noise. This is not the sum of the three talented people but something fresher and more exciting. This album is intricate and layered. ‘Arise You Shimmering Nightmare’ sounds appear and dissipate around tribal drums taking centre stage. Thomas’ hushed vocal delivery skin crawling and eerie.

Second and fourth tracks ‘Proto-Lion Tamer’ and ‘Enough’ are the only times where the trio lean into familiar shouty, heavy, post-punk/electronic territory. ’Proto-Lion Tamer’ brings a pounding beat and Wayne’s trademark electronics batters through, undercut with a clean rhythm guitar which glues this track together. ‘Enough’ is closer to USA Nails and another Wayne related band Death Pedals. Dirty bass, shouting and one of the few hooky beat/riff combos. Both stellar tracks, but the only time the trio do not necessarily bring something new to the table and will sit comfortably with any fans of their previous work.

After an intense first half of the record you are slowed almost to a halt. ‘Saxophones By The Water’ echoes making it feel the vocals are delivered from the pulpit in a church. A hopeful but haunting track before launching you into the darkness of ‘Midnight Sauce’. Pounding military drums rising to a crescendo which feels like the summoning of dark forces. These three figures carry the rhythm into the aptly named ‘Fog Walker’. Galloping drums and a disgusting bass prang with distant electronics seeping in.

‘For The Boys’ a despondent track but the most important track. Thomas addressing men that all is lost because of their crimes. A song for a fictional captain addressing his chauvinistic sinking ship. ‘This is it, we will swallow that big blue pill groping ourselves in the darkness till it’s time to kill’ and ‘I was angry, entitled, happy to act that way’ two very brutal lyrics amongst others. A realisation that men must change.

Closer ‘Park Jogger’ goes full industrial; levers being yanked, buttons pushed, noises emanating from all corners of a bleak landscape. Everything fades outs to an electronic buzz before you are taken into an electronic noise soundscape, a rare hopeful sounding moment for humanity across this record. A Matrix moment, Neo has saved the world from the machines.

The length just over half an hour it this album is well crafted in such a short space of time and as ever well produced with Wayne’s wizardry. It is something undoubtedly new for these three but will appeal to their cumulative fanbases. Not sure they have any plans to play this live but it would be a treat to see how this is translated into a gig environment.

Score: 8/10

Boys is released November 27th via HUMAN WORTH.

10% of all proceeds will be donated to The Hackney Foodbank, 15% on waiver free days.

Purchase the record here.