Organ Thing of The Day – The new Cheer Accident album, the Chicago band’s twentieth is here…
CHEER ACCIDENT – CHICAGO XX (Cuneiform Records) – The new Cheer Accident album has landed, the full album, this is very exciting, and yes, of course we expect to be challenged, of course we expect the unexpected, of course we expect it to be very very good, they’re always very very good and that one track we’ve already heard from this new album has been playing on repeat here for weeks, that first taste, the second track on this new album, a refined piece of timeless perfection called Like Something to Resemble – and yes, perfection, that song is a perfect piece of progressive pop music, one of the finest things this always fine band from Chicago has ever done, Like Something to Resemble is pin-point good, a pop song just about as perfect as it gets.
First things first though, and before that perfect opening few seconds of Like Something to Resemble – a song and a recording that will surely still be one of the best of this decade when with the roaring 20’s are done and dusted in tern years time, before all that there’s the album opener Intimacy. First track and first curveball then, told you you never quite know what to expect from Cheer Accident (other than to expect them not to let you down), Intimacy sounds like some slightly insane car horn, some kind of delicate emergency procedure while the car album goes off and someone plays a crumhorn type thing, now that is how to start album, two minutes of uniqueness that could probably only come from Cheer Accident (or maybe if you really pushed us for one of those lazy comparisons then This Heat at their best)
I said I was going to write one of those first reaction pieces rather than a ‘proper’ review, and okay yes, I know, I never write ‘proper’ reviews, and yes, we’re way past that first listen now but I did write most of this after the first listen a few weeks back and I have listened to it more than a handful of times now while I’ve been running around curating art shows and avoiding the plague and battling the things that need to be battled when you do put art exhibitions on and only manage to grab slices of new music in between the herding of artists (painters are worse than musicians! I’ve spent many years herding both). Only now am I in a space where I can really properly stop everything and look at the perfect sky and listen for a real proper proper first time and oh look I’ve already listened to Like Something to Resemble something like three hundred times and it really is still sending shivers up my spine every single time, it makes me want to punch the air in victory every time, it really is just perfect pop music for people who want pop musicians to respect them rather than treat them like shallow idiots – hang on, where are we now? That there is a perfect slice of 70’s Genesis, track five, Life Rings Hollow – and there it goes again, that keyboard riff, oooooohhhh! Yes! Where was I? Pop music, if Like Something to Resemble and indeed all of this album had been made my anyone other than a so-called unfashionable uncool been-around-for-yeas prog rock band like Cheer Accident then the hipster journalists at places like Pitchfork would be frothing about it, Everett bloody True would be having orgasms over it (is he still about?). Fact is Cheer Accident are just about the coolest damn band on the planet and this is where the depth is, this is where the heart is, this is very very real, this is gloriously honest and yes, as experimental as ever – they like to challenge themselves as much as us – proper art rock. And yes we probably said it with the last album (and the one before that) but once again this is their best yet – twenty albums in, they have absolutely no right to be getting better every time, to be getting it so so on-the-nail right time after time, they were damn good when the first album landed here all those years ago, this new album is outrageously special.
The thing I like about Cheer Accident, well one of the many things, is that they never feel the need to tell us how good they are, never need to show off, of course they’re clever but then never feel the need to show us like all those godawful technical muso bands do, like all those show off bands only musicians ever like do, all those five string base players with their ponytails and endorsements and their math rock boredom Diatoms is properly progressive, up there with the best of Gentle Giant or Henry Cow while taking on some reggae just to add to the rich tapestry and feeling like something wholesome from back then without ever aping anything from back then – somehow Cheer Accident always mange to sound very very forward looking and now whilst sounding very progressive in the most 70’s sense of it and deliciously alternative like the best things of say the darlings of the 90’s alternative music press and bands like Archers of Loaf or Truman’s Water – all that yet they always mange to sound like nowhere else but right here right now, always like no one else but Cheer Accident and without ever quite repeating what they did on any of their previous records they always seem to get it just right – and yes, sure, there are bits that have you thinking that’s classic trademark Cheer Accident, that’s back to something that haven’t done for a few albums, but no, it always feels fresh and new and, whoooo listen to that bit there! Outrageous!! Two minutes 45 seconds in to my first listen to a soon to be played to death song called Life Rings Hollow – yes I wrote that bit back when I really did listen to the album for the first time, it just got me at the exact same point again – yeah yeah, I know what you’re saying, “another of those over the top gushing Organ reviews Sean comes up with, fractured and all over the place and way to over the top” – frankly my friend I couldn’t care less what you think, moments like this is why we’ve spent so many years sacrificing it all for art, for music, I couldn’t care less if you think I’m gushing, if you want chin-stroking and some kind of notion of ‘proper’ reviewing, this ain’t the place for you, music is about passion, music is about reaction, about heart and soul, that shared emotion, that bond between listeners, music is about that moment, this is Cardiacs-good, this is Suppers Ready Good (and yes I am the guy who stops everything at least once a week for twenty odd minutes of Supper, And I nearly said “track” there, I hate calling things tracks, these are songs, pieces of art, lifeblood, damn damn damn, this is why we can never quite knock this whole life-consuming time-consuming Organ thing on the head, there’s always some damn band with some damn record or some damn painter that’s painted something that simply must be written about and gushed over or played on the radio or hung on a gallery wall and Cheer Accident are one of those few bands that really really really do matter and I will damn well gush as much as I want while sentences never end and never ending and over and over….
And yes, the start of I don’t Believe sounds like it might be a new Cardiacs song, and that from us you surely know is high high compliment, I don’t Believe sounds a bit Cardiacs until it turns to feel a bit like Yes and a bit like something Eminem once rapped over in that way of building things up he has when he gets things right (and yes, for all his annoying bulshit Marshall sometimes does get it very right), I don’t Believe it the longest song on the album, a mere seven minutes plus change, it sounds way longer than that, it sounds epic, quietly epic, understated, clever, almost delicate, the never ending.- Apocalypse in 9/8 Mile .
Plea Bargain is Cheer Accident at their most out there while still somehow still sounding gloriously poppy and at the same time as prog as flip – they do it all, and all at the same time. Slowly For a While quite simply is something new, as in something that still remains within the constraints and formality of pop or the conventions of rock, yet really is something new, just something slightly different, some kind of magical different ingredient, Plea Bargain is just so just. Actually, these eight songs are relatively short pieces, there’s a full-bodied economy with this new album, the longest piece on here, like I said already, is just over seven minutes – Cheer Accident are a sometimes a band capable of things the length it might take to get Supper Ready but not this time, for all that, for all the talk of for the poppiness, this is as complex and busy and packed with everything you want from an unashamed prog rock band, this album is as epic and complicated as anything they’ve done, this is ridiculously progressive in every sense, and just listen to that bit there! How do they keep on doing it?! Just when you think the album has peaked they lift it up again,and ,now, with Things and that slight feel of a fuller bodied Extra Life, they lift things up yet again
And this final track Slowly For a While really really (really) is something impossible to pin down, beautifully sparse, strange, positively repetitive, alive with delicate layers, different flavours yet again, that thing when Cheer Accident go in deeper, dare one say, their weirder side? That quiet side, hey look, Cheer Accident, made their twentieth album, yes that cover is a play on the milestone Chicago hit, Cheer Accident made their 20th album, it really is the dogs’, it really is worth gushing over, it really really (really) is, this is proper. (sw)