Brighton sleaze-rock connoisseurs Strange Cages have just dropped their new EP “The Cracks”, a slice of psychedelic-meets-psychosis that could happily soundtrack a Hammer Horror reboot.
Strange Cages have always borrowed a lot from cult heroes The Cramps, but the selection of tracks on offer here push further away from this perverted rock ‘n’ roll template and delve more and more into extended instrumental sections that sound almost post-punk at times.
Title track “The Cracks” is 60’s garage at its best, scrappy guitars and a driving drum beat pushing the song onwards, with just a few hints of a more experimental sound oozing through the gaps in the distortion. The same can be said of “Lavasurf Lovesong” a 60’s surf influenced tune that hits hard and leaves early, clocking in at just over 2 minutes long.
It’s with the final track “Leader of a Cult” that you really see the direction Strange Cages are travelling in, a drawn-out 5 minutes that almost sounds as if you’ve put a single on the record player at 33 RPM. The band’s trademark sound is still there, but each instrument is given some room to breathe, with extended instrumental sections cutting up the song proper. “Leader of a Cult” is still a stellar song, but it’s clearly fenced off from some of the band’s earlier output, and gives the EP a real direction, rather than making it seem like a few singles strapped haphazardly together.
Overall “The Cracks” is a perfect distillation of what Strange Cages are all about, stepping just far enough out of the shadow of garage punk to squint into the sun, but staying close enough to easily scuttle back. It’s a filthy, sweaty, dark EP, and it’s all the better for it.