Haggard Cat – ‘Common Sense Holiday’

By Louis Kerry

Everything about Haggard Cat is outrageous. Their name, their history, their live show, and now their blistering second full-length album ‘Common Sense Holiday’. Evolving from their tumultuous previous band Heck (aka Baby Godzilla), the noisy duo have honed their mind-bending post-hardcore craft without negotiating away from their extreme level of intensity.

Opening track ‘First Words’ fires in with a stoner rock style riff from front man Matt Reynolds, along with his colossal voice. Mixing the groove of Queens of the Stone Age with the noise and absurdity of Dillinger Escape Plan, as ever with these two, the common sense of a standard song structure has well and truly gone out the window.

Song by song, the band unveil new layers to their bold, rollercoaster-like style. On drums Tom Marsh constantly fills each track with the most chaotic approaches, flinging you around with left turns and curveballs here, there and everywhere, whilst also driving each track in its own gargantuan undertaking – most notably in epic rollercoaster of a finale ‘Ghosts Already’.

Alongside the barrage of crushing post-hardcore breakdowns, ‘Common Sense Holiday’ has more melody than any of their previous outings, and Reynolds’ voice has never sounded so on form. The exceptional vocals on ‘Rational’ go beyond expectations of a band not known as singing angels. Lyrically, Haggard Cat tackle some of the most important parts of our daily lives from politics to drug use to social media, but always with a tongue firmly pressed in their cheek.

Aside from ‘Threads’, which lacks in the thrill found elsewhere, ‘Common Sense Holiday’ is riffs galore. Reynolds’ musicianship and chemistry alongside Marsh shines above all else. The highlight of the album is ‘Show Reel’, featuring elements of math rock, post hardcore, and a bat shit mental guitar solo slapped in the middle, as well as the effortlessly fun chorus in ‘Time’. ‘European Hardware’ resembles the unpredictable but accessible sound that Pulled Apart By Horses perfected, while ‘The Natives’, boasts a slowed down, horror vibe that progresses into mayhem with a crescendo that only Haggard Cat could get away with. The breakdowns sound like they’ve thrown all of their instruments in a blender and come out with a concoction of pure rock to be guzzled down.

Haggard Cat have put together their most ambitious record to date, setting a benchmark for the alternative music scene. It’s going to be exciting – and even a little scary – to see how far they can go next time around, but for now, ‘Common Sense Holiday’ acts as 45 minutes of raw escapism, energy, and an abundance of creativity.


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