REVIEW: KAPUTT – Carnage Hall (2019)

Part of the new wave of new wave, or of the Mark E Smith-speaking ‘post-punk’ vein coming out of the UK right now, KAPUTT is perhaps the most overlooked and under appreciated group out of this new batch of bands. Carnage Hall explores the sweet and aggravating with a surrealist bent.

KAPUTT builds off the sound of its saxophone fueled dance-punk predecessor James Chance, while ditching the self-important disdain (and racism) for short melodic motifs interlaced in a roller coaster of walking disjointed riffs. Carnage Hall features punched up versions of all the songs on KAPUTT’s 2017 demo while new angles are explored with tracks like Accordion. Using the band’s standard countering angular motifs, Accordion manages to pull off the beach side relaxation we could all use in a time like this. Think About Your Face explores a level of funky festivities not seen previously by group, while Suspectette’s sweet and caring nature could work the right listener into a good cry.

Carnage Hall demands a level of focus, each note (and there are many of them) only as rewarding as the attention you give them. This is why a song like Hightlight! is not only great fun, but also necessary to Carnage Hall’s vibrancy. Highlight!’s emotions are accessible and needed. Falling saxophones lead organically into a stomping chorus, backing and lead vocals come together before the chorus turns to its anthemic instrumental b-part.

KAPUTT wastes no time jumping back into the fray with following Hi! I’m The Wasp. Updated since its debut on Demo 2017, The Wasp is still its slow, creepy self, though now with filled out backing vocals and light reverb.

The whole album is more or less this way. Far from over produced, but no longer the dry bare-bones tracks presented on the demo. The songs are all strong to start with, but with just the right amount of production they really shine in their full potential.

Their face-value goofiness is reminiscent of prog-punk legends The Cardiacs. But like The Cardiacs, under any face-value goofiness is an emotionally intelligent current of decision making. Surely, KAPUTT is the thinking-man’s Shame.*

There are far too many ‘standout’ tracks (Parsonage Square in particular) to point to a handful and say ‘try these’! If you’re a seasoned new wave/punk fan searching for refreshing energy, or simply looking for something offering a slight challenge, Carnage Hall can’t be beat.

*Not to knock Shame. Songs of Praise is a great album and given the chance you ought to see them live.

For fans of: Crack Cloud, James Chance & The Contortions, Devo

Like KAPUTT? Give these a listen: The Cardiacs, Polyrock, Clinic

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