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Exit Decades

  Cut City  
  Gold Standard Laboratories  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

There are moments on Exit Decades when I feel like rushing out to a friend's place and shaking them, wild-eyed, until they consent to listen to Sweden's Cut City. This album is a veritable post-punk yearbook. A quick flick through the dusty pages and faded photographs these songs represent will have any thirty-something fan misty-eyed for the likes of Comsat Angels, Lotus Eaters, or the inevitable dark rhythms of Joy Division. And before anyone says it, yeah I know it's lazy journalism and yeah, I agree, nobody sounds/sounded like Joy Division.

Am I right?

I have two words in response -Anticipation and Damaged. Just hear them. Hell, even the lawyers would be knotting their foreheads over Damaged.

Not wishing to labour it, but if we played the role of music curators distant, ignorant historians - and we were to draw a route-map from Unknown Pleasures to New Order's Movement, I'd say it's unlikely our fictitious highway would pass through Closer. Nobody could have anticipated Closer. That tragic album was too unique, too timeless and altogether too grave. No, charting a straight course, the midpoint of our voyage should have looked and sounded something like Exit Decades. Yet this isn't a full-on reprise for raincoated Mancunians. Rival Trials for example, is closer in style and substance to the work of The Sound. So too are the sporadic bursts of keyboard that punctuate this album. There is also the slightest hint of a dub side to Cut City. Listening to the excellent Numb Boys, I can envisage piling on still more echo and reverb. Hell, just toss the whole track to Adrian Sherwood for a re-working. I shouldn't really say so, because Numb Boys is already amazing. Forgive me. I love my dub/indie crossover and I'm always yearning for more.

For the most part Exit Decades stays retro. Heard in a record shop, you'd be forgiven for thinking it came out in 1981 - that it must have been one of those seminal releases you just somehow missed. This is something you cannot say about the likes of other, more lauded copyists these days. Occasionally though, Cut City pull off a pretty neat Interpol/Editors impersonation (witness Manoeuvres or The Dull Miles). Yet what I truly ache to know is: where the Hell did Just Pornography come from? This is the album's crowning glory and believe me, none of the aforementioned great bands ever recorded a track like this. Just Pornography is epic. It grows majestically out of a swirl of distortion and suddenly it's there before us, chiming and swaggering with justifiable confidence. You'd have to fuse Jesus and Mary Chain's Never Understand with Editors Munich before you'd even come close.

"Your life's just pornography
Recited from bad scripts
You're in the dark, searching for exit signs
When someone said
It's beyond even me to change this"

Max J Hansson, I thank you for those amazing words. Cut City, I thank you for a piece of musical history I never realized I was missing until now. Once upon a time I reviewed a band called Cities. They didn't cut it. These Swedes though, these unknown treasures, are clearly a cut above. If they can continue in the direction of Just Pornography, their second album will probably freeze the blood in my veins. A heavenly way to die, I'm sure. Just please sort out that dub remix first.

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