Written by: The Administrator
Those of you with frighteningly impeccable memory may remember another mini-review from a while back discussing Cartoon Head's first foray into self-described "doom ska." I really enjoyed "Wrong!" in all of its oddity, and have anxiously awaited another Cartoon Head release in a similar vein. What we got wasn't a duplicate of those gloriously strange sights and sounds, but the result is wholly intriguing and chaotic nonetheless. In the band's own words: "It's a cover of a Ghost song and we fucked it right up for you."
"Square Hammer" is a classic unto itself, and a straight cover simply wouldn't work. Enter Cartoon Head's off-kilter approach. There's a poppy yet carnivalesque sense of panic and glee that drapes over the whole (very brief) affair. That instantly recognizable riff has been given the fun house treatment, drenched in a glitzy sleaze. The verses are sped up to a borderline comical degree, the vocals are just a little maniacal, and the noise-afflicted chorus feels like it has been dragged through the sewer. The track also just ends midway with the kind of abruptness that makes you wonder if you accidentally hit pause. There is no leadout, no reflection. It's a genuinely funny choice, and one that fits Cartoon Head pattern of operating outside expectation.
The whole track feels less like an homage to Ghost and more like a medieval satire, a jester clowning with a crude effigy of a king. And if all this sounds like a negative, please know that I absolutely adore the Cartoon Head approach to absurdity. This track is an exciting exercise in pulling the rug out from under the listener, and that is a rare trait indeed. Given the implicit good humor and self-awareness that Ghost have utilized over their run, this feels like a very appropriate way to cover their music. If you want a faithful rendition of "Square Hammer," this ain't it. If you like weird music, check it out below.
Cartoon Head - Square Hammer was released May 5th, 2023 via Hvng Man Records. Find it here!
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