After hitting upon the stupidly ambitious idea to release an album every month, UK noise rock/indie punk band Das Kapitans found themselves insanely busy throughout 2021. Not only did they achieve their goal, but they also left the world with a body of work that was of a much higher quality than such bulk, rush released product would ever suggest. Just using the ‘Fall’ and ‘Happy’ albums to gauge the band’s sound, the quickly amassed catalogue is a treasure trove for lovers of noisy, guitar based rock/punk, with tunes like ‘Boney’ and ‘Cranberry Sauce’ whipping up a very 90s punk sound indebted to Wipers, and the more melodic ‘Blue’ coming across like a supercharged blend of classic Sonic Youth and the more contemporary sounds of the early Arctic Monkeys. Twelve albums is a lot to take in by anyone’s standards, but it’s fair to say you can drop into the dozen pretty much at any point and discover some great, hook driven noise.
Supposedly, 2022 was going to be less frantic, but the band quickly lined up two album releases and some single cuts, so their growing fan base certainly weren’t going to feel too short changed. The first of the year’s treats is prime Kapitans, with the double a-sided single, ‘Big Muff’/ ‘MTV’ providing a twin burst of vibrant riffing.
‘Big Muff’, in particular, is something of a gem. By opening with a really angular post punk riff it immediately feels familiar, but by further showcasing a great guitar tone from Simon Bailey as he pierces through a fairly standard punky groove with a shrill discord, it displays a certain edginess that could rival many of the greats. Aided by taut rhythm, that’s enough to set it in place as a great track for the style, but the arrival of a natural, slightly shouty vocal ups the tension just enough to make it seem even more vital. There are times where the vocal slurs threaten to pull everything down, but a hard edged chorus blending the best elements of Wipers and Mudhoney gives the tune a genuine kick. Moving through a couple of bars where a Melvins-eque almost derails everything, the band reach for the simple hook one last time, and the cries of “Save yourself, save your song” take on an air of something almost anthemic. None of this seems particularly unusual, until you take a closer listen to the lyrics. In a typically quirky style, Das Kapitans have taken the quintessentially British tale of a man hawking tatty goods at a boot fair in Blackpool and applied them to a fuzzy, garage driven backdrop that owes so much to the American alternative sounds of the 90s it creates an inspired mismatch. What’s more, it’s presented very naturally, proving that the band haven’t tried too hard to be different or quirky. It sounds great, and it’ll certainly appeal to a broad audience of listeners who love all things of a relatively lo-fi, punky persuasion.
Slowing down, ‘MTV’ serves up a mid tempo riff that’s very much driven by Stephen Potter’s hefty bass sound. Drummer Lewis Smith also holds a steady beat, over which waves of distorted guitar recall 90s alternative sounds with a shameless, recycled love. Pretty quickly, echoes of the earlier emo bands like Sunny Day Real Estate fill the sound, but another distinctly British vocal keeps everything in line with previous Das Kapitans recordings. The lyrics are minimal – its four repeated lines are drawled as a slacker mantra with a mildly threatening presence – and at first it seems as if it’ll burn itself out prematurely. However, by gradually intensifying the vocal, it eventually becomes a good example of the band’s abilities to create something great out of almost nothing. It probably won’t challenge the brilliant ‘Big Muff’ in your affections, but in terms of showing a different side to the band, it has a power and a moodiness that’s more than effective.
Potentially more prolific than even Guided By Voices and the UK’s own Get The Fuck Outta Dodge, it seems there’s no slowing Das Kapitans down, even when they’re supposedly taking things easy. This double whammy adds yet more gold to their rapidly growing catalogue and is strong enough to provide a perfect entry point for the unfamiliar, as well as keeping extant fans entertained. For anyone keen on the punkier end of lo-fi/fuzzy indie rock, this is an essential download.