If there has been anything more invasively infectious than Paranormal Romance this year so far we have yet to be blessed by it. The new and fourth album from the warped creative adventure of British indie popsters Cowtown is a delicious and riveting carnival of mischievously inventive pop ‘n’ roll amid seriously catchy endeavour which spark and inflame the imagination, only growing more tempting and irresistible with every listen.
Formed twelve years ago, the Leeds based Cowtown has earned a potent reputation and support for their rousing proposal of sound. Merging raw seventies power pop with punk and its post neighbour as well as their own modern imagination, the threesome of guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Nash, keybassist/vocalist Hilary Knott, and drummer David Michael Shields have caught more and more attention through their previous trio of albums; Pine-Cone Express (2007), Excellent Domestic Short Hair (2010), and especially Dudes vs. Bad Dudes (2013). New proposition Paranormal Romance is a whole new ball game though with the band’s most rounded and boldly captivating songs yet without losing the raw magnetism which made its predecessor such a greedily welcomed encounter.
Recorded with Matthew Johnson (Hookworms/Suburban Home) and mastered by Tom Woodhead (Forward Russia), album and band first tease with the brief introduction of Paranormal Romance Theme. As if inspired by Devo’s first couple of albums, the track awakens ears and imagination ready for the boisterous exploits of Clock In. Again rhythms and its off kilter melodic invention has the scent of the Mothersbaughs and Casales brothers; the Ohio band seemingly an open member of inspirations to Cowtown. A rampant romp of sound and energy, the song surges through ears with a melodic grin on its creative face and sonic deviancy in its compelling character which hooks and rhythms repeat with their own masterful persuasion.
Castleman is similarly cast, exploring a more cosmic climate as it twists and turns through sonic rich imagination. Knott brings beguiling shadows to the mix whilst Shields’ beats subtly nag and drive the song into the warm arms of Nash’s vocals and his enjoyable toxic melodies. Submission to its raucous festivity is swift and just as easily given to the following Tweak. The track is a ridiculously persuasive treat; an invasion of niggling riffs and rapier like beats which is in top gear from its first to last breath like a power pop fuelled Dickies, an urgency which drives the whole of Paranormal Romance.
Living up to its name Motivational Speaker soon has ears and spirit lively recipients of its enticing pop poetry; simplicity and invention colluding in a web of infectious sonic arousal before the thirty odd seconds of Captain Planet entangles an already hungry appetite in its insurgent punk catchiness. There is no moment to catch a breath either as its short blaze is quickly surpassed by Not Sure, the track engaging in a senses blurring dance of enterprise and flirtation further lit up by the vocal unity of Nash and Knott as Shields beats seem to dig deeper into the psyche.
The bewitching grace and revelry of Castle Greyscale and indeed its inescapable rhythmic trespass has the passions hooked and lined in within moments of its opening melodic lure, only tightening the grip as enticing vocals unite with sonic stabs with bass and drums breathless in their insistence. Aural manna for an already heady party to the album, the song is matched by the delicious whirlpool of sound and creative revelry making up Let Go. It provides a theatre of imagination which burrows deeper under the skin with every one of its short minutes and subsequent listens, lust the ultimate winner and just as eagerly offered for the Devo-esque escapade of Closed Circuit where every second is sheer magnetism entangling ears in flirtatious drama and its pulsating canvas of fun.
Buggin’ Out strolls in straight after with its own authoritative escapade of senses trespassing hooks and catchy twists before the album comes to a just as thrilling close with Emojicore. The longest track on the album at three minutes, it uses all of its extensive time to weave a rich and thickly satisfying tapestry of melodic mischief with the right amount of discord and dark hues to enthral and seduce body and soul.
It is a fine end to an album which as mentioned just grows and flourishes with every listen into one of the year’s highlights. Cowtown has been approached with attention and praise before but not to the level it is easy to assume Paranormal Romance will incite.
Paranormal Romance is out now through HHBTM Records in the US and Hot Salvation and Audacious Art Experiment in the UK as well as @ https://cowtown.bandcamp.com/album/paranormal-romance
Pete RingMaster 03/11/2016
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