[sic] Magazine

Cheatahs – Cheatahs

Cheatahs’ debut LP is difficult to pin down. When tracks like “Leave To Remain” sound like the more nauseous parts of Loveless and others have the very literal shoegaze sense of disappearing into transportative, head-nodding noise, their claims of being an ambient-punk band may seem to be misleading. Certainly there are few parallels to draw between the London-based band’s fuzzy alt-rock and say, Deerhunter, the current kings of self-proclaimed ambient-punk. On many levels, especially when we consider 50% of the Cheatahs line-up hail from North America, someone like Ringo Deathstarr seems a more appropriate comparison.

That all said, if by ambient-punk Cheatahs mean melodic, fuzzed-out rock with crunchy guitars and a dreamy edge borrowed from the early 90s then they may be on to something. Beneath the pedal-driven scree of “Northern Exposure”, for example, there’s a discernable indie jangle – not typically the preserve of any type of punk. All the same, this is a direction that can lead to wishy-washier results and so it proves with disappointments like “Mission Creep”, though similar indie-punker “The Swan” fares much better, marauding with DIY intent just as it did on last year’s solid SANS EP.

We could talk about nomenclature all day, but in many cases it’s futile – either too restrictive or too vague. What’s clear in any case is that the star of Cheatahs’ show is that killer guitar crunch, particularly when it comes in to offset the slightly fey 90s bent such as on “Get Tight”. It’s even better on the buzzsaw rocker “Kenworth” – one half of the recent AA single backed with the melodic “Cut The Grass”. Incorporating dissonant drone simmer, both these tracks feel like the wheels may fly off at any time, but so too are they held back by the knowledge that they won’t for which it’d be too easy and stereotypically lazy to blame the German precision of drummer Marc Raue. Punk doesn’t need to be dangerous but can it be tasteful? Maybe not, unless – to bring the conversation full circle – this is the ambience Cheatahs were referring to all along?

Best tracks: “Leave To Remain” and “Kenworth”

~Cheatahs is released 10th February 2014 on Wichita.~