Introductions can be so agitating. Especially when you meet somebody and they ask you the awkward testing-the-waters question, “So what are you into?” When asked, you might not know what the hell you’re into but, you answer anyway, subjecting yourself to their unwarranted judgements. Even more so than you, bands suffer from this shoddy judging, and debut albums are the prime target for it. Just how everyone who really likes Slaughterhouse Five isn’t always an ill-informed poser, neither are bands who sound like they’ve been coddling with a copy of Loveless since its release, trying to be My Bloody Valentine incarnate.
Cheatahs isn’t just one of those bands. No one is saying they don’t sound like three scoops of My Bloody Valentine, with a drizzle of Swervedriver and a few sprinkles of Ride. However, the hyaline texture of the songs and the non-navigable swerves of tone that connote pungent mood swings within the tracks gives this London band’s debut a distinct personality. This plucky record shows that the band has an arsenal of their own idiosyncrasies. The most beseeching of these distinctions is the appreciable angst that lies under the film of soft-pedaled vocals and reverb, propelled by the steady-going drumming on songs like Cut The Grass and Get Tight. The variation of tempos on Cheatahs makes it sound like a medicine cabinet of uppers and downers.
Plus, this full-length is less lyric driven than Cheatahs’ 2013 Extended Plays EP (which was really a compilation of their two 2012 EPs Coared and SANS). The band seems liberated from scuffling to dorm mope one-liners like “Do you wanna come inside?/I’ve got loads of 45s.” Not that all of the emo iterations have been tossed on Cheatahs’ debut—they’ve just been smeared into the instrumentation.
If you were someone who felt stood-up by Yuck’s follow-up to their self-titled debut, Cheatahs will follow through on the promise that great rainy Saturday afternoon shoegaze isn’t all gazing into a rearview mirror.