Result: 4.2 / 5.0
London based four piece Cheatahs have a story to tell. The band formed when singer Nathan Hewitt traveled from Canada to London to study and it wasn’t long before he found three kindred spirits and formed Cheatahs. The band’s mission has always been to create a fiercely lo-fi driven sound and this was quickly borne out by the prompt release of two EPs, before they were picked up by long established London-based label Wichita. It seems to have all happened pretty quickly for Cheatahs, but this isn’t to say that the band have rushed things and their self-titled debut album is a testament to this.
Beginning with a uproarious intro in the form of ‘I’ before smashing straight into ‘Geographic’, the tone of the album is set, and Cheatahs make their speciality clear from the word go: gloriously fuzzed up, cerebral rock ‘n’ roll. The album has the spirit of the 90s firmly flowing through its veins; ‘Northern Exposure’ sounds like a long lost out-take from Dinosaur Jr.’s Where You Been and ‘The Swan’ reminds me of Liv Tyler and A.J. jumping around Empire Records before the store opens (for some reason), like Rex Manning on steroids. But there’s more going on here than the odd bit of 90s derived rock.
The tracks on Cheatahs have some pretty obscure subject matter, until you scratch the surface. Album stand-out ‘Kenworth’ is named after a type of truck, which seem a little strange, until you find out that singer/guitarist, Nathan Hewitt’s father drove a Kenworth truck before he sadly passed away and the song centres around how Hewitt imagines his father’s final drive home. It’s this sort of emotional intensity that sets Cheatahs above and beyond other bands producing lo-fi noise rock at the moment. There’s a tangible, emotional drive to the tracks as well as the ever present sweat inducing raw energy.
‘Mission Creep’ and ‘IV’ are well placed, slower tempo songs that not only provide some respite from the high octane energy of the other tracks, but also infuse the album with a welcome shoegaze flavour and showcase the bands capacity for eloquent, My Bloody Valentine style songwriting. Tracks like these prove that Cheatahs are a band confident enough to put the brakes on from time to time and let themselves add a dose of spacious ambience to the proceedings. Something that’s criminally rare these days.
Cheatahs is an album that will unashamedly thrash your socks off, but give your brain a workout at the same time.
Cheatahs is out on 10 February on Wichita.
Head over to the Cheatahs Bandcamp page for more music and upcoming tour dates.