Hit On All Sixess was originally intended for release early in 2016 as a quick follow-up to Deadcuts’ glitteringly nocturnal debut Dark Is The Night. Since then the band, and the album, have undergone a change of personnel and a series of ‘stranger than fiction’ trials. All fairly everyday stuff in the life of Deadcuts.
With that in mind, Hit On All Sixess very much continues where Dark Is The Night finishes. In fact, some of the material on the new album dates back to this period. They just had too much quality stuff to fit on one album, confirmation of the creative force that is Mark Keds and Jerome Alexandre. The main difference between the releases is that Hit On All Sixess is stronger, more resilient, as it says in ‘Sleepless Allies’, ‘Still we soldier on like we’ve always won’.
Some explanation for the strength might lie in that change of personnel. Cass Browne, also of Senseless Things, plays drums on this album, not a man renowned for his drumming delicacy. Aaron Scars on bass also provides a solidity and reliability that hasn’t always been there. There is also a greater musical range and depth including keyboards, sax and strings.
Thematically, the album covers similar territory as before: suicide, sin, seduction. They write as outsiders and mavericks, outliers in another psychological if not geographical space. Singles ‘Summon The Witches’ and ‘Dope Girls’ maintain the band’s reputation as fine songwriters. Ever literate, the latter draws on Keds’ store of reading about the underbelly of society, in this instance, Marek Kohn’s book of the same name. Drug underground imagery features heavily on the album and the stunningly beautiful ‘Opium Style’ is the most obvious example. Lyrically raw, it will walk you to the edge of the abyss, ‘Was it ever too much /to hold onto your faith/as you slide from the ceiling?’ Alexandre’s piano accompaniment pierces like a stiletto. They document the damage like the self-destructive avengers they are.
The album contains some of the finest vocal performances Keds has put in for years. ‘Permanent Twilight’ is as sweetly sensitive at times as ‘Keepsake’. There are glimpses of the boy still in there even though he ‘wears his weight in regret’. Many of the songs sound cathartic and whilst they appear to reveal secrets certainly conceal a whole lot more. ‘Craving’, ‘Venus’ and ‘My Delinquency’ reflect the dark days of their own, private Terror, Alexandre capturing the midnight wanderings of poets and artists like a musical Edgar Allan Poe. Further evidence, if any was needed, that their lives are not like our own.
Listening to Deadcuts sometimes seems like a dangerous privilege. Like revolutionary artists, they know that they can only be destroyed by equals and not the wolves that hound and surround them.
This is what survival sounds like.
Hit On All Sixess will be released on 2nd February 2018 through Speedowax.