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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Album Review: Kutosis – Fanatical Love

Released: 14/10/11
Label: Barely Regal

Spending time with records is wonderful. Sadly it's not something that's often afforded to someone who attempts to run a whole reviews section on their own. But with unemployment and a (very) slow job market records such as Fanatical Love by Cardiff based Kutosis can find themselves the subject to the amount of time and effort that allows them to unfurl and reveal their otherwise glanced-over facets. Y'see, what initially appears to be a fairly straightforwardly art-punk assault becomes a more complex beast whose little joining stitches achieve prominence through familiarity.

That's not to say that Kutosis deal in something completely unfathomable. There's plenty of entrance points into what they do. Influences such as mclusky, Future of the Left and Les Savy Fav are worn on the sleeve and provide the base template for the band (Ben, Ian and Jim) to throw themselves into. Which they do (after the ease in of the instrumental intro '#asongtostartarecordwith') with the minute long burst of 'Salton Sea', which throws in Kutosis' lot with their aforementioned Cardiff brethren.

It and 'Shadows' are certainly highlights of the first half of the record, screeching along at breakneck speed and with the FotL-isms surfacing in their gnarly bass and ear-splitting guitars, but across Fanatical Love as a whole it's the more progressive leaning elements of the second half that stay in the mind. Specifically 'Lights To Lead Us' an undoubted album highlight that brings to mind the underrated dalliances of The Cooper Temple Clause, whilst transporting the listener to a grubbily unreal industrial landscape. Like if Kick Up The Fire... had been recorded on Coruscant. Maybe.

'Battle Lake' meanwhile features guitars that sound like alert klaxons and drums like falling artillery. It's certainly more epic than the bands sales would have you indicate, but rather than achieving this with glossy dynamics it comes at you relentlessly, but unforced and uses space as much as sound to immerse. That it exists alongside 'House Sounds' (think of The Automatic's heavier moments) without either jarring too much is a testament to how the band have created and inhabit their own sound.

Elsewhere there's 'Skin' with an intriguing spoken word section, and 'Devo' which sounds as though it'd be one hell of a live highlight with its obvious chorus and stabbing riffs. The latter is as close to filler as the record gets in terms of actual songs, and this aside it's only 'Islands vs Oceans II' a reprise of earlier instrumental ('Islands vs Oceans I' – obviously ) that could be described as superfluous, sounding, as it does, like a disappointing album outro.

Fortunately it's not. Kutosis are better than that and they instead close with the cracking 'Breeders'. With a beat that you can dance (or at least go apeshit) to and wind tunnel guitars it races to the finish and ensures that Fanatical Love leaves a good taste in the mouth and encourages you to play the record again and again. Which, as mentioned, only benefits its sounds, oddities and layers. In a year remarkably short on decent rock albums Kutosis have delivered one that's vibrant and forward thinking, primal and exciting.

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