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Cardiacs - A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window CD (album) cover





4.29 | 298 ratings

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5 stars Cardiacs' album A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window is their most popular release to date. Cardiacs' style - part art rock, part punk, part prog, and extremely experimental - makes them one of the more interesting bands out there. The band is also very technical - they blow traditional time meter and structure out of proportion; they understand a lot about music, but are creative enough that they can break the rules and play around. In order to get a feel for Cardiacs' sound, one must truly immerse themselves in the music; A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window is not only a brilliant record, but it's also a great introduction to their huge discography.

The first song of the album, "A Little Man And A House", is classic Cardiacs: eccentric, theatrical, complex, varied, and intense. The song uses repetition and vocal delivery in order to build up overtime - we are but just into the album, and Tim Smith's unique vocals are already shining. Now, that is something!

Next, "In A City Lining" first showcases Dominic Luckman's intricate drumming. The song's message is controversial in that it makes fun of everyday life and progress. It really is not too bad, though. After all, black comedy exists in other forms far worse; and, Tim Smith gives off a very light and merry air as always.

"Is This The Life?" is Cardiacs' best known single, and it attained brief chart success, peaking at #80. It is well placed as the fourth song in the album. Tim Smith's guitar soloing and William D. Drake's grand keyboards - listen closely - make for a much heavier sound. Since side one is a little easier on the listener, this song helps to even things out. Afterwards, there is a short interlude.

"Dive" is fast-paced, dynamic, and has a fun outro: "Life's a part and it lies on top of me. Life is constantly on my mind." - and perhaps it's songs like these that lead so many people to compare Cardiacs to R.E.S., but in my opinion, the bands have nothing to do with each other.

A little over twenty minutes into the album, "The Icing on The World" kicks off side two of the album. Here, the album dips because Cardiacs were obviously trying to be heavy, at the expense of their distinct style. Perhaps if it was less orchestrated or the drums did not ring so loudly the song would work better.

With "The Breakfast Line'' the album quickly avenges itself. It introduces with people speaking in low tones; yet, it moves forward, and it has it all: tempo changes and a range of sounds as diverse and precise as the color palette are what define this song. Elaine Herman has some beautiful violin playing throughout, and it fits in extremely well.

"Victory Egg" is even better. The song is strictly vocal, with backing instruments that help to create a crescendo effect. The backing instrumentals help to add space to the music as well, just like in classical music and modern post-rock.

Nevertheless, "R.E.S." is, again, even better; actually, "R.E.S." is my favorite off of the album. That is because the keyboards sound like they belong in the chiptune genre; that is because "That's the way we all go" is slurred so beautifully, and the song is syncopated in all sorts of different time divisions. The guitar solo makes its grand entry about halfway through, and instrumentals are continually built on top - each a spark of an idea that lasts for maybe ten seconds. This song also draws comparisons to "Dog Like Sparky", off of Cardiacs' Sing to God; "R.E.S." and "Dog Like Sparky" are two of the most complicated "happy songs" that I know.

Now, Cardiacs have managed to create a world so unique and mesmerizing, and they have to end it off somehow. "The Whole World Window" is like "Impressioni di settembre" by Premiata Forneria Marconi and "Ad Gloriam" by Le Orme, but the bite of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds seems to interfere. "The Whole World Window" is your traditional ballad, but it so much more. The album ends with so much power - pure power. There happens to be another version of A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window with the added songs "Goosegash", "Loosefish Scapegrace", "I'm Eating In Bed", "There's Too Many Irons In The Fire", and "All Spectacular"; forty-five minutes is enough time for Cardiacs to make a statement - that is why the original is so much better.

mlkpad14 | 5/5 |


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