2015 is barely a fortnight old and it already has the hallmarks of being a terrific year for psych/ related releases, and Cardinal Fuzz is starting the year with what may prove to be an early contender in the essential category. Until recently it seemed highly unlikely that You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons (let’s just called them Demons) would be in a position to produce new material. However, last year’s re-release of Contact High Wit Da Demons was great news (for me only only topped by The Heads re-release of ‘Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere’ in 2014), and I was also very fortunate to see the band play a storming set live at Kraak in Manchester last Autumn.
It is great to see Demons back in the studio, and the resulting album is one that I am really getting into having listened to it in a few times now – it really gets better every time; and while it doesn’t score too high for me on being a complete and coherent album (maybe that’ll come later) the individual tracks that make it up are all terrific.
We get straight out of the blocks with ‘The Sorcerers’ a huge slab of Black Sabbath riffage, with that hallmark Demons vocal bringing to mind The Heads in their pomp. It’s a brilliant way to start the album, but not necessarily a good indicator of what is to come. The same could be said of track two, ‘Sad Alien and Winking Skeleton’. This is Demons at their most melodious with some great wah wah guitar and a real tune that gets proper embedded in your brain, it is the light that accentuates that darkness that it to come…
The comedown starts with ‘Seya’ with it’s Middle Eastern rhythms and both electric and caustic (I wrote acoustic but my computer autocorrected – it knew something I didn’t so I’m going to let it stand) guitar in the mix. Again this is a light, almost jaunty track which shows Demons’ talents as musicians, but there is also a melancholia there in the background which is hard to pin down but definitely present for me.
With ‘Chapel Perilous’ the tone of the album begins to darken considerably. It is the sort of track that you get around half way through and wonder if it is ever going to finish, yet by the end wish it never would. This is because of what happens around four and a half minutes in when, having been drawn into a false sense of security, the band hits you with a change of pace that for me is the start of the second half of the album…everything gets really heavy and foreboding and Demons lock themselves into a relentless sort of groove that bodes well for their forthcoming live performances. Pummelling!
Next up comes what is for me the centrepiece of the album ‘Throne Control’, a blues-influenced track of epic proportions which lilts along, once again, in a magnificently foreboding (and forbidding is probably the word I would use to describe the second half of this album) manner before flowering into an absolutely huge tune – the sort that makes you stop what you’re doing and think “fuck me that’s good”. That’s generally my seal of approval.
There is then a short interlude, ‘The Bee’s Eyes’, which clocks in at about 90 seconds before ‘Hothouse’, the final track which, as with ‘Chapel Perilous’ and ‘Throne Control’ begins with the sort of repetitive riffage that inveigles its way into your brain before hitting you between the ears with a great step change which brings that whole thing home (although the thought of it going on forever is very appealing – and apparently a wish fulfilled on Cardinal Fuzz’s vinyl version with its ever-playing groove).
I said at the start that I didn’t think that this wasn’t necessarily a coherent album, but having reflected on it in writing this review I want to go back on that and say that there is a definite progression here and it is, certainly for me, an album of two halves with, perhaps unusually, the change happening part way through a track. Whatever, this is a great addition to both Demons’ discography, and to Cardinal Fuzz’s list of releases and an essential album for fuzz fans to listen to in 2015.