I really hate when I read well-written press releases. Feels like the market team is trying to push me out of a job. And the PR for Asylums new album Genetic Cabaret is, in many ways, what my review was going to be.
Little over two years since the success of their last album, Alien Human Emotions, Asylums’ follow up continues to the bands signature sound of Art Punk. But, unlike many bands at the moment, Asylums are well aware of the worst pandemic in human history and are not cursing the rotten luck of release date. If anything, Genetic Cabaret is the album for these isolated days.
Opening with ‘Catalogue Kids’ fast Allegro tempo of simultaneous guitar and drums, we are treated to a jumpy, energetic, but not chaotic, track. Dominated by the aforementioned guitar/drum combo, the harmony and arrangement are upbeat and in direct contrast to the lyrics which are…well not angry. More exasperated in the modern world, hoping that people will abandon it, metaphorical at least.
The not-quite-anger is a theme to several tracks. ‘Platitudes’ is a colder sounding track to ‘Catalogue’ with its arrangement and harmony while mention the same tempo. But it carries a passive-aggressive feel, suppressed suburban angst to its sound that matches the lyrics.
What is interesting is that they have sacrificed the anchor of the deep bass that would give it a warmer sound. Instead, it relies on an airy sound, one that forces you to focus on the guitar, drums and the lyrics.
Genetic Cabaret is a rallying cry against the mediocrity and conformity of the current world. Tracks like ‘Clean Money’, with a faster, more aggressive arrangement and tempo mix with lyrical righteous anger. It’s a powerful shot of defiance against the banality and cheapness of the modern world.
Just not a particularly original shot.
Don’t get me wrong. The music is excellent, and the lyrics are not the whingy middle-class self-hatred that has come to dominate a lot of punk-esque music. But it lacks a rawness that directly links it to the lives of the listeners. While it is rooted in the current zeitgeist and addresses issues such as media accountability, commercialism and political apathy, this is something we have heard before during different eras. It doesn’t take away from the album as a whole. An album that is superbly mixed and arranged. But it does lack the bite that could have carried it over into another level. If it showed how these things affect the listener, rather than just rally against them, its impact would have left a more profound feeling to it.
As it is, it’s a good album, with good songs, well worth your time. And if it went that bit further with its message it could have been a great album.
Genetic Cabaret is out now and available to buy here.