What if The Fall, Pere Ubu and the Swell Maps got fed up with all that searing rock’n’roll business and decided to strip things back to the simple electronic beat of a knackered old Casio keyboard? What if they figured they may as well mumble some bon mots over the top, and smother it in nagging, lo-fi repetition, whether composed of discordant keyboard stabs or undulating guitar chords?
That’s right, you’d probably end up somewhere in the vicinity of The Cool Greenhouse's batshit take on pop-mangling nonsense. If the above doesn’t sound worlds away from all your weirdo post-punk favourites, served up the likes of Rough Trade, Ron Johnson et al, you’re right – it’s all in the same wheelhouse. OK, here the rage and the noise seem more subtle but, but none of it is any less caustic or pointed than the sounds you already know and love to be baffled by.
What’s more, The Cool Greenhouse is piss-funny. On this two-track window into the skewed mindset behind the project, we open with Landlords – a searing take on the perils of renting that devolves into Kafka-esque levels of preposterousness while also remaining frighteningly recognisable. It goes from personalised number plates to chimpanzee-staffed call centres in just under three minutes, all to the strains of what The Desperate Bicycles might have sounded like while trying to rip off Hex Enduction Hour – in summary, fucking brilliant.
On the flip is 4Chan, a diary entry of sorts for a regular poster on the Internet’s most infamous troll caves. “Today I photoshopped 14 photographs of Tyler Durden and good old Patrick Bateman / And now my Steam account has two new followers and I’ve spammed some feminists with troll faces,” it goes, while two unsympathetic guitar chords crash rudely into each other ad infinitum. A hilariously bleak summary of life in certain quarters of the Internet, and an addictively excellent slice of horribly nervy pop music.
It might not sound like rock music as you know and love it, but it’s way punker than you. Stick it on – play once, twice, a thousand times. The Cool Greenhouse is your new 80s awkward hero, right here in 2019.
Our take: I was enamored with the Cool Greenhouse’s first single on Market Square (in fact it was our Record of the Week back in June 2018), so I was excited to hear this follow up. It does not disappoint! In case you missed that last single, here’s the skinny on the Cool Greenhouse: they base their sound around a vintage-sounding Casio keyboard, their vocals are flat and deadpan, and their lyrics are of the “slice of life” variety, describing the absurd predicaments we modern humans endure. Despite the markedly different instrumentation, they sound quite a lot like the Fall, which is something I never seem to tire of. The a-side here, “Landlord,” reminds me of the Fall’s “New Face in Hell” in that the narrative is the most memorable part of the song. I get lost in the story (and its brilliant refrain, “my hands are completely tied”), then I remember that I’m listening to a song and when I redirect my attention to the music, I remember how great it is. The b-side, “4 Chan,” is similarly vivid, but the guitar riff that provides the main hook won’t let me forget that I’m listening to music and not reading a short story. Fans of smart, literate punk music like Parquet Courts and Uranium Club should be all over this.