EP Review:  Cabbage – The Extended Play of Cruelty

The phrase ‘Cabbage’ is often used to describe someone who leads a dull, inactive lifestyle. Cabbage, the five-piece band from Manchester, have created an EP that is anything but dull and inactive. The Extended Play of Cruelty is available on a limited edition green vinyl from Friday 25th August. So, what can first time listeners of the rambunctious, anti-establishment band expect to hear?

It wouldn’t be fair to fair to dive straight into the music and ignore the unhinged artwork that covers the release. Comprising of images that any Northerner worth his stripes will recognise, the artwork is reminiscent of being a whippersnapper in Manchester. It almost looks like you’ve sawn open the artists head and thrown it onto a canvas. It’s a manic image that very much sets the tone for the what’s to come.

Cabbage

The EP is described on their Facebook page as: “Musings about The British Rail system, masturbation, phony band(s) and the foundation of Cabbage, Asa Morley.” Keeping up their reputation of symbolising a recusant lifestyle, ‘Celebration of a Disease’ is undoubtedly the best way to start. The opening flurry of lyrics refers to the dreams of a 16-year-old being emancipated, heavy stuff. The general direction that the song takes is describing how technology has changed the way that young adolescents view sex. The guitar whines through the song and gives it a delightfully raw sounding backing track. It’s a very well constructed opener, which promises a lot for what’s to come. A potentially overused band of comparison, but a great one nonetheless, is Fat White Family. There are definitely some similarities in musical style between the two. Not enough to be considered a palimpsest, but they have definitely taken some positive influences from the famously crazy ‘Fat Whites’.

The second track, ‘Fraudulent Artist’, is a jibe at the current state of the music industry and artists that are built on teams of musicians and songwriters. Not surprising really for a band that have been outspoken about the static nature of the Manchester music scene. It’s a slightly more upbeat song, but it still keeps their hectic, fast paced style intact. The chorus is infectious, and you will definitely find yourself murmuring it under your breath as you go about your daily life. I like the clever metaphors used throughout the song, especially the comparison between bands and chameleons, able to adapt to any environment that suits them. Like or loathe the message in the song, there is definitely some truth behind what they say. On top of this, the message is definitely portrayed in typical Cabbage style, bravo sirs.

‘A Network Betrayal’ is the title of the next track, now THIS is something I can get on-board with. Every pun intended. A song about the chaotic, dysfunctional manner in which we currently find our train lines. With ‘Traingate’ rearing its ugly head once more, there isn’t a timelier song on the EP. The song waxes lyrical about the train conductors enjoying the power that they hold for their brief journey up and down the carriage and the inappropriate use of those pesky student rail cards. Of course, as the song states, we mustn’t tar them all with the same brush, heaven forbid. But, aside from the politics which may be divisive, there is another high-quality song here. The eerie voice mimicking the tannoy operator flows smoothly into an almost Blur sounding track. The fast paced verses have little hints of ‘Parklife’ in there, a comparison I’m not sure they would be altogether thankful for.

‘Ertrinken’, the shortest song on the EP by some way, provides a slightly slower bridge between ‘A Network Betrayal’ and the last track. The instrumental has the feel of an American garage tune, but the slightly slow-paced lyrics kick in and it changes the feel of the entire song. “I get my feet on the ground, and hold you down ‘til you drown, drown, drown.”. It wouldn’t strike you as a lyric that adds a sense of calm to a song, but you’d be wrong. With the samples of real life, like the glass smashing, it all comes together to make a spacey song. A calm before the storm, perhaps.

If ‘The Extended Play of Cruelty’ was a treadmill, it would leave you strewn across the floor of the gym, wondering how the sudden change of pace caught you so off guard. Asa Morley is the drummer in the band, and also the tittle of the last track; ‘Asa Morley’. Described earlier as the foundations of Cabbage, we can but hope that he is slightly less chaotic than the song. Luckily, the lyrics suggest that he’s a fashionista that likes Football Manager and making salad for his family.

By far the fastest paced song out of the five. ‘Asa Morley’ gives us an insight into the great chemistry that the band clearly have. If you’ve ever seen Cabbage live, it’s clear to see that these guys thoroughly thrive on stage. They have a reputation for putting on unparalleled, enigmatic performances and have exploded onto the scene – since their inception, they have supported a plethora of famous bands, including the Courteeners and Kasabian and I’m sure they’ll come into their own amongst these guys in time to come.

Details of how to get your hands on one of the limited edition EP green vinyls can be found via their twitter page (@AhCabbage).

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