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Cardiacs - Guns CD (album) cover





3.61 | 64 ratings

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4 stars A number of people don't seem to love Guns as much as pretty much all other Cardiacs albums. Why is this? Certainly it's a fully valid Cardiacs album with excellent Cardiacs music on it.

Well, one explanation may be that the album is off to a somewhat weak start with Spell with a Shell, and people may not then be able to shake off the first impression. This comes with a fairly thin sound, a not particularly interesting rhythm, a single chord for quite some time and just two for some more time and some not particularly catchy singing from the first moment. To be fair, at some point it takes off into a more intense chorus and actually starts to make some sense.

Anyway, from then on things go uphill. With There's Good Cud the album certainly hasn't yet reached the peak. It's a fast and hard rocking punk orgy which will appeal to headbangers. Wind and Rain is Cold is the first highlight, more folky and poetic, with typical Cardiacs theatre spirit and some rare but great and dreamy Sarah Smith vocals; she returned for this album and is extremely welcome. Cry Wet Smile Day is again rocking harder and has one of these iconic crowd singing choruses, ah, the choruses! You want to join in so much but it's not that easy. OK, then Jitterbug (junior is a). This starts like a typical energetic Cardiacs song and then from the 3 minute mark get caught in a strange slow outworldly succession of chords in spacey sound over which Tim's voice meanders around, for almost 5 minutes. Depending on your mood this may be very annoying or genius; I'd be interested in whether anybody has followed this often enough to know exactly where it's going in the next moment, this is probably a half life's project. Sleep All Eyes Open is another fast rocker; nice how they already start fast and then give you the feeling of ever getting faster, wait, there's some illusion somewhere in it, like Escher's stairs that go upwards all the time. Come Back Clammy Lammy is again fast and quite straight for a Cardiacs song. It has another addictive crowd chorus but the Cardiacs can be accused of recycling some of their own older ideas in places (also in the odd other song).

The band then calms down a bit; Clean That Evil Mud Out Of Your Soul doesn't go for speed generally, although it has a weird and fast guitar melody in its instrumental bridges, but also they wind it down at some moments, this is melodic and rich in contrasts. Ain't He Messy Though is also about the melody and the chords, it's very nicely crafted with the typical twists, a strong keyboards sound and some very nice sax by Sarah.

Then Signs, which alone is strong enough to justify buying Guns; it's my no. 2 favourite Cardiacs song (behind Big Ship) and has the most memorable and intense chorus of them all, which is most effectively build on some very calm and vulnerable almost standing still ballad parts in between. I can listen to just this song for ages.

Song of a Dead Pest is a rather straight keyboard oriented melodic song, which sounds rather uplifting and relaxed, in stark contrast to its title and the lyrics. Will Bleed Amen is again a fast and hard finale with once more fascinating melodic turns. Attached to it is an epilogue that has Tim singing to the organ, leading up to a closure by the full band.

Perhaps I shouldn't have written that much on the individual songs, ultimately it's the Cardiacs and they totally defy description. Anyway, overall this has developed into something pretty strong again. OK, in the context of the Cardiacs universe it may not be seen as one of their peaks and there are some self citations in this one, and also (as usual) one can criticise the mix at times. On the other hand, when it comes to memorable addictive (but still twisted) melodies and choruses, Guns is second to pretty much no other Cardiacs album, with some real crackers on it, notably the stunning Signs. So this is the real deal, not some kind of second rate album, just if you test-listen to it, don't start in the beginning.

Get well soon, Tim, you're missed!

Lewian | 4/5 |


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