After a pause…

by Alex Hern

10. The White Stripes – Icky Thump.
The ninth album of the year

Coming from Newcastle (or Gateshead. Or Tyneside. Or Sunderland. I’m not good with The North), Kubichek! are probably the best band with an ! in their name ever. And while that may sound like damning with faint praise, remember that they are up against surprisingly varied and effective competition. From ¡Forward Russia! to Panic! At the Disco, the ! (pronounced “exclamation mark”, “factorial” or simply “bang” depending upon the context) has been enjoying its spot in the limelight recently.

But Kubichek! are a band more deserving of it than most. From the opening chord of Nightjoy, the first single from their debut album Not Enough Night, it is clear that this is a band that deals heavily in exclaimations. Their songs are powerful, loud and energetic to the point of near parody.

Much like fellow banged Northerners iForward Russia!, the guitars are distorted, boosted and so integral to the sound that at times it can be hard to remember that there are any other instruments in the band at all. Everything else, from bass to drums, spends half its time trying to shadow them.

Its the other half of the time that contains the joy, though. The lead vocals in isolation can sometimes sound like that slice of life style so popular at the moment (for example, again from Nightjoy, “You put on your silver shoes and watch the house collapse”), but with there only being four or five repeated lines in most songs, it soon becomes clear that they are being used to maximum efficiency as an instrument, and not as a particularly effective tool for conveying a message.

And in the end it is that lack of depth that costs this album. For sheer excitment it cannot be beaten, and it earned its place here by virtue of its ridiculous playcount on my iTunes, but at times the formula shows through.

Kubichek! – Nightjoy [MP3 removed]

Kubichek! – Outwards [MP3 removed]