Album Review: Kagoule - ‘Strange Entertainment’


After taking some time away to process all of their earlier successes, Kagoule are back with their second album ‘Strange Entertainment’. In comparison to their 2015 debut, ‘Urth’, which was more on the grunge side of things, ‘Strange Entertainment’ sees Kagoule become more musically creative and driven on post-punk references. 

Speaking of the new album, frontman Cai Burns says “we always felt this pressure early on the decide what type of band we were going to be and this record is an exercise in our self-confidence as a band by being all of them at once.” With such an eclectic mix of sounds on this album, you can clearly tell that they have achieved what they set out to do. ‘Egg Hunt’ is a funky number that I can only describe as what I think might be the end result if Alt-J decided to try their hand at writing post-punk songs and ‘Bad Saliva’ is a rattling grungy look back on things that can’t be changed.

What I find most interesting about Kagoule is their use of time signatures and how there are moments where you feel like there are three different songs stitched up into one. ‘Too New Too Soon’ sneaks in wailing guitars around a steady drum beat and then throws some haunting female vocals into the mix with an unnerving guitar riff, whilst ‘It’s Not My Day’ sees bassist Lucy Hatter on main vocals and jumps between being a typical grunge song and a sweet conversational indie song. Lawrence English’s ability to switch between drum patterns is almost fascinating because at times it is barely noticeable until you’ve listened to the song over and over again.

‘Superhuman’ feels like Cai and Lucy are in distant conversation, voicing their thoughts out loud whilst rattling away on their instruments in a kind of scatty way that Biffy Clyro have perfected. This also comes through on the thrashier ‘Monsieur Automaton’, where Cai’s vocals occasionally remind me of Alex Trimble from Two Door Cinema Club. If you are a fan of the traditional verse and chorus set-up of a song, you may find yourself getting a bit lost when it comes to ‘Magnified’, which interestingly seems to be made up of a series of verses on the theme of observing the strange world around you. “Through a lens that’s a pair of giant eyes. It all reflects the light and I burst.”

Kagoule are not afraid of making a bit of noise and if cacophony is what you’re looking for, then ‘Balance’ is the song for you. If you can picture the reimagining of music listened to by the Beat Generation and slap some distorted guitars on it, then you might be in the right direction. It is full of traditional funk and jazz elements but has been completely revamped to have a slight Brit Pop edge. Further into the strange we go, with ‘Repent! Said The Insect Man’ which has those indecipherable lyrics and scatty Biffy Clyro notes previously mentioned. ‘Strange Was The Time’ starts off as an almost melancholic drawl and drums build you up to that rattling and thrashing guitar sound that Kagoule do so well.

If you like listening to albums that are full of little surprises, then ‘Strange Entertainment’ will be right up your street. In support of the album, Kagoule will be touring at the start of November.

Words by Tyler Damara Kelly

Strange Entertainment 2018 Tour Dates:

Oct 31st - Leeds - Wharf Chambers
Nov 01st - Manchester - The Eagle Inn
Nov 02nd - Liverpool - EBGB's
Nov 03rd - Nottingham - Rescue Rooms
Nov 07th - Margate - Tom Thumb Theatre
Nov 08th - Brighton - Prince Albert
Nov 09th - Portsmouth - The Loft
Nov 10th - Southampton - Heartbreakers
Nov 11th - Bristol - Rough Trade
Nov 19th - London - Moth Club