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Cardiacs - Ditzy Scene CD (album) cover





4.02 | 9 ratings

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The Hemulen
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Oddly, this is my first Cardiacs review despite having voluntarily hurled myself into what is likely to be a lifelong love affair with this band about two years ago. I apologise, therefore, if this review comes across as a little... fanboyish at times. Some things just can't be helped.

So, what exactly is Ditzy Scene? Well, it's a single. A limited edition single, no less, so your chances of getting hold of a copy are, by now, pretty damn slim. Far more importantly, however, Ditzy Scene is the first new studio material from this unique and practically indescribable band for the best part of a decade!* This makes it rather a special single. The songs on this album are also the first studio tracks to feature new recruit (he only joined in 2003!) guitarist Kavus Torabi - seen of late touring with the very excellent Guapo.

Clearly, then, it's a momentous release. A lot is at stake. What's changed since 1999's slightly underwhelming album 'Guns'? And what, perhaps more importantly, has stayed the same?

Ditzy Scene opens with something of a surprise - a lengthy, instrumental intro with shuffley tambourines, lazy, almost disorientated twangy guitar strums and a tense bass drum pulse. Eventually this gives way to a sudden burst of energy - a rock n' roll riff punctuated by a female gospel backing vocal refrain closely followed by a tight, choral verse which places us, at last, in more familiar Cardiacs territory. And on it goes, squeezing its weaving melody and tense chords for all its bombastic worth!

A lot of fans have compared this song to Dirty Boy - the mighty opening number on Sing To God Part Two. If you have heard that song you will know that this is not a bad thing. Ditzy Scene is, however, as different to the aforementioned Cardiacs classic as it is similar. Things HAVE changed in the last few years. I'm just not sure I could tell you what, simply that it's for the better!

The first of the two B-sides on the single is a jolly little track called Gen. It belts along with a gallopy refrain, one of those horribly catchy demented pop melodies that Cardiacs do so very very well and the most indescribable guitar solo courtesy of Kavus. The best I can do is to say that it sounds like a rockabilly guitar lick played by someone with attention defecit disorder. The song's all over far too quickly, but I know in my heart of hearts that's what makes it stick.

The last track on the disc is Made All Up, another big song with all the boys and girls singing till their lungs ache. It's another unmistakably Cardiacsy tune - the chords, the words, the sheer bulk of noise. Their style is so unique and conspicuous that you'd sooner mistake a brick for a marshmallow than this song for something by anyone else but Cardiacs! My only reservation with it is that, unlike the preceding Gen, it slightly outstays its welcome. The song almost immediately gets stuck in an endless (and admittedly very tasty sounding) cycle which it never really escapes from. Sixty seconds less of it probably wouldn't have done much harm...

All in all, though, this is a terribly exciting release for Cardiacs fans everywhere and I'm extremely glad I snagged a copy (just) in time!

As for those of you who are new to the band... don't start here. Obviously. Try 'Songs For Ships and Irons' or 'Sing To God' instead!

*With the exception of one song (Faster Than Snakes with a Ball and a Chain) included on 2002's 'Greatest Hits' collection. This was supposedly a track from a forthcoming album, but six years on and one line-up change later, that album's still yet to appear!

The Hemulen | 4/5 |


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