Cassels – ‘The Perfect Ending’

By Tom Walsh

The world is fucked. 

Every time you turn on the news, there are reports of the human race finding a new way to destroy the very place they call home. The Amazon rainforest is on fire, the ice caps are rapidly disappearing, tourists are shooting animals for sport, immigrants are put in cages in the US, and we’re trawling the seas until every fish is consumed.

We’re hurtling towards our own destruction, ignoring every warning from experts that we deem “fake news”, all the while the clock ticks closer to our extinction. We’re in an era of overwhelming helplessness, like whatever we do as an individual seems futile – but in the bleakest of moments, you need to find light relief.

Cassels certainly have found that. Dark humour courses through their latest LP ‘The Perfect Ending’, a title befitting the world we live in. Brothers Jim and Loz Beck convey a nihilistic outlook, openly stating that “humanity being wiped off the face of the Earth is a happy ending” and that as a species “we totally deserve to die”.

‘The Perfect Ending’ is a portrait of despair for anyone young enough to be subjected to the consequences of what our predecessors have left for us. It is an acid-tongued riposte to whatever the baby boomers have destroyed and left for the millennials to clean up, taking up every progressive topic from being a “snowflake generation” and global warming, to sexual assault and victim blaming. 

This is not an easy listen at times. ‘In The Zoo They Feed Him Nuts’ is a graphic depiction of a sexual assault and subsequent dismissal of a victim’s claims. It highlights the unwarranted shame brought upon people subject to this kind of abuse. It is a suspense laden track lurching between calm, spoken word to a visceral, blood-boiling chorus.

A sense of exasperation pierces through ‘The Perfect Ending’, with Jim Beck’s lyrics depicting his anger at our public discourse. ‘Snowflakes in the Winter’ deals with people being swept up in right-wing ideology while a progressive view is dismissed as being a “snowflake”; the howls of Brexit and the fiasco of Donald Trump’s administration in the US are as stark as any.

This, however, is not a protest album. It’s one of releasing pent-up emotions in a world that has seemingly lost its mind. While the first half of the album takes on these topics, the second half is beautifully crafted to speak of the impending climate disaster.

‘The Leaking Ark’ is a delicate, haunting track, as Jim poses in an almost nursery rhyme fashion the question, “what if all the animals were given Christian names?” , whether we could stomach sacrificing “every fish, a Nemo or Dory” for sustenance to keep our species hobbling on. Oil spills in the ocean suffocating the reeds so that fish named Tina and Keith were now microwaved meals, the relentless nature of culling every animal to let the human race survive. It’s a masterpiece of dark humour and dystopian thinking.

Musically, Cassels swing between intricate guitar work of Cloud Nothings, with the punk lyricism of Shellac. It is an excellent mix of loud and quiet that provides the ideal backing track to their bleak manifesto. 

This is demonstrated with the enormous ‘The Queue at the Chemists’, an on-the-nose dissection of the world’s collective shrug at global warming when everyone is consumed with other day-to-day frustrations. “How can I be expected to care about an abstract and nebulous problem like a dying planet? When I’m forced to queue for over 20 minutes to replenish my cod-liver oil stocks at the chemists?”, Jim despairs.

After picking up a copy of James Lovelock’s seminal book ‘Gaia’, Jim concluded: “We may have scarred the land with concrete, left pock marks with fire and bombs, and built cancerous growths which spew toxins into the air, but in the end we will only succeed in killing ourselves. Everything else will regrow eventually. A perfect ending.”

The world is a ticking timebomb, and Cassels want to have a front row seat for the boom.

TOM WALSH

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