The thirteenth release from Das Kapitans (2022’s ‘Debut’) marked a turning point for the band. Not only was it the first release where all of the band members played on all tracks, but the album appeared to have a much more confident and bigger sound. Bigger didn’t necessarily mean more commercial, of course, and on numbers like ‘That’ll Do Pig’ and ‘Big Muff’, their combination of post punk anger and Mudhoney-esque energy sounded absolutely furious. It was the kind of album that captured the band’s raw essence perfectly. If that didn’t help to build their fan base via enthusiastic word of mouth via the internet, nothing would. Not that Das Kapitans are in it for the fame and fortune; as founders of the Socks On record label, their commitment to the ideals of a musical collective and keeping things DIY is solid, and the music comes above everything else.
…And on their 2023 EP ‘Lungs’, their DIY sounds and ethics are as tight as ever. Opener ‘This Could Be Considered A Protest Song’ introduces more of their angrier sounds when a post punk riff delivers a massive descending riff from the guitar set against a fuzz bass and crashing drums. With that arrangement repeating, and a sloganeering refrain of “Stick a badge on” countering sharp, angry lyrics like “There’s a lack of real respect for anyone whose earned it”, it becomes prime Das Kapitans in record time. In and out in under two minutes, it’s not a track that believes in labouring its point – either musically or lyrically – and its brevity gives the performance so much more power. With a siren like guitar leading into a punchy punk riff, ‘Plump Belly’ harks back to the really angry ‘10’ LP, but beneath its noisier elements, you’ll discover a really fat bass sound, before a short, distorted guitar solo hints at some of the band’s artier interests. Although ‘Lungs’ features a couple of better tunes, this is another great example of the band’s indie-punk approached at full pelt.
Arriving at a riff that sounds like Wire in a bad mood, the post punk/noisy indie of ‘Tickle’ adds a broad melody to the band’s musical arsenal. The slightly longer playing time allows everyone to stretch out on a brilliant groove, and although a chorus borrowing influence from a few 90s noisemakers aims to create a superb peak with its gang vocals interspersed with some equally cool drum fills, in terms of attention grabbing, very little is getting past the bass sound. Thanks to a semi-raw recording and a lot of volume, Stephen Potter manages to find a tone that falls somewhere between classic JJ Burnel and ‘Fall Heads Roll’ era Fall. It gives the recording some real meat, and makes it the standout cut from this EP. Moving on, ‘Breadline (New Noise)’ is even more angular, taking Das Kap’s post punk interests to extremes. The rhythm is solid; the riffs are unsettling and sort of lop-sided, but within that unease, the anger boils to create a sound where choppy, fuzzy guitars (courtesy of Simon Bailey) dominate. There isn’t anything new here for the Kapitans fan at large, but played back at high volume, it all sounds terrific, before ‘Little Soldier’ closes the EP with a strangely buoyant take on a post punk sound. Drummer Lewis Smith smashes the hell out of his kit on a typically angry chorus, but musically, the real interest comes during the track’s second half when a sharp guitar note cuts through a crashy riff, the trio indulge in an unexpected a cappella interlude and, eventually, reach the point where the noise subsides to allow a warm bass riff to rise up. Eventually going in for another shouty refrain, it feels like one of the band’s most well-rounded tracks. On any other release, it would be the highlight, so that says something about the quality here.
In some respects, ‘Lungs’ doesn’t feel quite as full sounding as the preceding long player, but it’s by no means a hacked out rush job either. These five songs – delivered in approximately ten minutes – present a solid example of Das Kap’s brilliant garage punk sound, and by centring the material around some really short arrangements, their riffs attack with a constant anger that sounds great every time. In short, if you’ve already dipped in and out of the band’s quickly amassed catalogue and have liked what you’ve heard, there’s so much here to love…despite there not being a huge amount of material here at all.