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Cardiacs - Sing to God CD (album) cover





4.30 | 365 ratings

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3 stars This is one of those bands you never seem to hear about, but the once or twice you ever hear them mentioned, they're described as the greatest band in the world. They seem to occupy a nonexistent genre that no one else has really pulled off in quite the same way. This is progressive rock, no doubt, but they are not a prog rock band. This is high-energy, fast post-punk music, but it's not really a punk band either. Some writeups refer to them as "pronk". Personally, though, I think it's a mistake to expect too much of the "punk" side of the equation. I know a lot about both prog and punk, and these guys are definitely much closer to the prog side. In fact, I would never have made the punk connection myself, had I not read it somewhere previously.

Their music is actually quite conventional on the surface, meaning it's not avant-garde noise, nor is it too complex for its own good. The pieces are mostly reasonable length, seem melodic enough, but there's something very strange about them. Each song seems to head in several different directions, an approach that sounds random at first but starts to take shape around the third listen, as if you're starting to understand their "language". Tempo shifts, complex keyboard solos, multitracked Queen-like vocals, moments of almost ridiculous intensity (e.g. the last couple minutes of "Dirty Boy" sound like a swelling finale that never ends), all this is is crammed into a dizzyingly overstuffed double CD. It can get exhausting, but if you're willing to just let it wash over you, and don't try to nail it down tightly into a preconceived stylistic mold, it's a very fun, exciting listen.

I've heard one other album by these cats, and it's not nearly as good as this one. This one, from what I've read, gets the most polarized reviews - either love or hate. I can't say yet that I love it or hate it, but it's interesting enough to bring me back for repeated listens. Now, for example, I'm almost getting dizzy listening to "A Horse's Tail". I think this band could benefit from some more objective analysis that doesn't just buy the stock line of "punk prog" hook line and sinker. It's not. If anything, it sounds like a progressive Midnight Oil or something. Weirdly cool.

HolyMoly | 3/5 |


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