Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Album Review by David Sly (Freelance Journalist)

So, smartarse musos get into the studio with a head full of influences and a universe full of ideas. And they cut an album. You reckon you know where it’s going? Nope, you haven’t a clue. Bossa nova to grindcore. Demented circus music to big band swing. Cut-time full metal racket to klezmer orchestra. This simply doesn’t make sense; and that’s the point. Satan’s Cheerleaders is the most serious musical pisstake you’re likely to hear, though this is not to say it’s a jokey album. No, the playing is too intricate, precise, too damn clever; they’re just messing with your head by twisting the styles into places you don’t expect. The gentle cooing of singer Simon Ridley over the sublime Latin jazz of opening song A Tip of the Hat leads you into a trap; exhausting instrumental excursions pepper the album soon afterwards, from the mad Middle Eastern hardcore of Kricfalusi and driving rhythms of The Cursed Hands of Automaton to the surging surf rock twang and twist of SS. Twee café jazz arrives with the noodling saxophones of Champagne, at violent counterpoint to both the roaring rockabilly swing of the amusing 100% Sold on Jesus and the darkly brooding metal epic Asleep in the Deep. When a straight anthemic rock song, Henry’s Lament, lands in the midst of such a maelstrom it comes as a jolting surprise. What’s the market for a peculiar melange of lush noise like this? It’s for anyone with ears, a taste for the overwhelming sensoround pulse of music, and with a decent sense of humour.