Cabbage - Nihilistic Glamour Shots (BMG)

Cabbage – Nihilistic Glamour Shots (BMG)

In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Nihilistic Glamour Shots is actually Cabbage‘s debut album proper. The truly long-awaited record follows last year’s Young Dumb and Full Of… round-up of early E.P. tracks and the fabulous five-tracker The Extended Play Of Cruelty, whose lead track ‘Celebration Of A Disease’ is one of only two previously-released tracks on the album, (the other being 6Music favourite ‘Gibraltar Ape’).

So, it could be said be that with Nihilistic Glamour Shots, Cabbage have taken their time to amass a body of work that, put together, would make a compelling record, while impressively avoiding the easy path of including fan favourites like ‘Necroflat In The Palace’, ‘Terrorist Synthesizer’ and ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’.

And oh, those titles! On scanning the album sleeve, it’s hard not to smile when seeing ‘Postmodernist Caligula’ or ‘Reptile’s State Funeral’ listed, but almost uniquely, Cabbage manage to bring a humour to their music without ever straying into ‘wacky’ territory. It can be a fine line.

The album begins Doolittle-style (high praise indeed) with a muscular opening salvo of ‘Preach To The Converted’, brilliant new single ‘Arms Of Pleonexia’ and ‘Molotov Alcopop’. The songs are powerful, following in the steps of ‘Fraudulent Artist’ (from last year’s E.P.), but highly tuneful – ‘Arms Of Pleonexia’ boasts a killer chorus and, like much of Cabbage’s material, a socially aware lyric (pleonexia meaning ‘extreme greed for wealth or material possessions’, if you weren’t sure).

There’s hardly the opportunity to take breath in that introductory trilogy, and when ‘Disinfect Us’ comes along, it is quite a contrast; certainly the track that most displays the influence of co-producer James Skelly (Skeleton Key Records boss and frontman of The Coral); it’s almost sea shanty-like in its approach and is probably the only track here that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Skelly’s band’s wonderfully genre-hopping debut album all those years ago (well, maybe ‘Perdurabo’ might have had a shout too, a song apparently about occultist Aleister Crowley, though that observation may be wide of the mark).

‘Celebration Of A Disease’, placed at the start of Side Two for vinyl people, already sounds like a massive hit, even though its lyrics about ‘misogyny and lust’ are hardly obvious contenders for radio play. Cabbage just wouldn’t worry about that kind of a detail – the album is very true to the spirit of the group – they do what they like, in other words.

As usual, vocals are shared between twin frontmen Lee Broadbent and Joe Martin, the latter’s heavily treated vocals leading the other hit (in an alternative universe) ‘Gibraltar Ape’, a song which, it has to be said, is not such an obvious single given the strength of material on show here. ‘Obligatory Castration’ meanwhile, is a frenetic sub-two-and-a-half-minute blast with some potentially controversial lyrics about who should be the recipients of, well, look at the title.

‘Reptile’s State Funeral’ sounds like the product of a collaboration between Marilyn Manson and Public Image Limited (and is as good as that promises!), its distorted drums punctuating a deathly slow march towards the album’s final track, the epic ‘Subhuman 2.0’, which has the stark repeated manta of “Please be awake in the morning” before an extended outro that sounds almost 1970s Bowie-ish, bringing the record to a dramatic close.

In Nihilistic Glamour Shots, Cabbage have delivered a debut which is tough, funny, serious and highly listenable. It’s been totally worth the wait.

Nihilistic Glamour Shots is released by BMG on March 30th.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.