Album Review: Clean Cut Kid – Painwave

Clean Cut Kid – Painwave

Words: Rob Connor

You may or may not be aware that we are in the throws of a shipping container revolution, these large iron vessels can now become fully blown homes, cafes, boutique clothing stores and many more weird and wonderful applications. However, you will struggle to find one that has been put to better use than the one that has been used by Liverpool’s very own Clean Cut Kid. They took a container and turned it into a full-blown studio to make the follow-up to their well-received debut album. 

Painwave is an album that is both an experiment and an ode to the creativity that can be found in the restrictions placed upon you, whether that be situation, equipment, time or whatever. Like a Vivian Maier photograph, the equipment used might be much more basic than what we have today, but the art it produces cannot be replicated and stands the test of time. As such, Clean Cut Kid decked their container with a range of gear from the 60s and 70s and went to work. 

After the slow synth choral opening of ‘Oh God’ (which wouldn’t seem out of place as an opening for a religious service if the Roman Catholic church fancied a modern-day update), Clean Cut Kid launch into their infectious brand of restrained Americana-infused funk pop which can’t help but get your toes tapping. The first single, ‘Emily’, along with I Don’t Like You But I Love You’ & Carry You’ all have that breezy summery feel that will no doubt see them added to many a holiday/bbq playlists over the coming months whereas the likes ofSlow Progress’ andSay Nothing’ have a more atmospheric tone but don’t let the pace of the album drop significantly.

Personally, the standout track isDeafening’ which just sounds like the most funky cabinet in an arcade from the 1980s with Mike Halls spikey lyrics and delicious vocal laid on top, until the surprising toilet break which made me literally laugh out loud. 

It’s clear the band are not afraid to take risks and are revelling in their new found creative freedom after cutting ties with their record label and returning to their Scouse roots. Every track relates to a painful experience or moment yet is presented in a joyous manner which is a deft trick to pull off once, let alone 15 times over the course of one album, yet they do so effortlessly.

With Painwave, Clean Cut Kid have produced an album that works as a whole but has those standout 3-minute punches of indie pop made for radio.  It’s a fuzzy anthemic sound that refuses to be contained by the limits of its makeshift studio and is set to take live venues and festivals by storm in the coming months.

Listen to Goodbye below:


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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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