Click here to return to the main site.

Music Review

Cover Image

Genetic Cabaret


Artist: Asylums
Label: Cool Things Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 17 July 2020

Cool Thing Records releases Genetic Cabaret, the third album from Indie Rock/Pop band Asylums (following Killer Brain Waves, and 2018’s Alien Human Emotions). The line-up consists of Luke Branch on vocals and guitar, Jazz Miell on guitar, Michael Webster on bass, and Henry Tyler on drums. They are founders of Cool Thing Records – based in Southend, which also includes on its books Indian Queens, The Horse Heads, Suspects, and others...

Let me begin by saying it niggles me a little when PR Blurb or the band themselves aspire to be American either in their sound or attitudes. We should be encouraging the wealth of homegrown talent we have here in the UK. Another thing I’m not keen on is music being used to press political beliefs and opinions on others – and there is a fair amount of that going on here. In my opinion songs should be about fantasy tales or true life experiences against a backdrop of the writer’s environment. It’s okay to have hope, aspirations, even anger. But blaming everyone else doesn’t wash – especially if it’s a government, because there is little you can do about it. What makes a person worth their salt is what they can achieve with those enforcements in place. But let’s talk about the music itself, which is very good.

Asylums is described as anything from Indie, through Pop-Punk to Grunge but, after listening to the first two tracks ('Catalogue Kids', and 'Platitudes') I classified it more simply as Commercial Hard Rock. However, as I soon discovered, this is an album that keeps on giving. The more layers uncovered, the more sub-genres are revealed. 'A Perfect Life in a Perfect World' I feel is the weakest song on offer, breaking its chains with adrenaline-induced Rock, moderate touches of AOR, and even Poodle Rock. 'A Town Full of Boarded Up Windows' has a moderate pace with a heavier emphasis on the chorus. 'Clean Money' is a song with more guts to it, utilising a sort of self-contained Grunge feel. 'Who Writes Tomorrows Headlines' is a very Indie-sounding track with lots of lyrics. It has nice weird guitar contributions and great drums for the outro. It boarders on the edge of psychedelia.

'The Distance Between Left & Right' has an unusual intro turn into a Progressive Rock meanderer, but with attitude. 'The Miracle Age' is a light ballad until two-thirds of the way through, when it becomes more upbeat and driven. 'Adrenaline Culture', in different circumstances, could very well have been a modern Green Day song. It has their recent feel about it, with a nice hook and melody. 'Yuppie Germs' is Pop-Punk, but borders on outright Punk. It would have been nice to hear a 1970s Punk version of this. Title track 'Genetic Cabaret' incorporates original odd beats and a particularly nice intro. I simply love the backing for the verses, which seem to be odds with each other but work perfectly. Definitely the best and most quirky-sounding of the bunch. We conclude with 'Dull Days'. A plaintive opening; nice and simple but with plenty of atmosphere.

I grew into this album the more with each new string to its bow revealed. Some are very clearly singles material, and a lot more ‘generic’ than the title track. However, when they want to Asylums prove that by being more experimental they can also be more interesting. The vocals are nice and clear, too, but carry feeling without being too wet.


Ty Power

Buy this item online

Digital album
Spotify logo
Digital album