The sophomore album from the least cool band on the planet is really good! Cuddly Shark (whose eponymous debut I think I bought because they had ‘shark’ in their name?) hath returned on the excellent Armellodie Records (see their GFP “Favourite Five” feature here) with ‘The Road To Ugly,’ and while it doesn’t feature anything quite as Bill & Teddingly immaculate as the refrain of “I heard you sing the worst song that I ever heard!” on “Jamie Foxx on Later With Jools Holland” from the 2009 debut, it really is a perfect follow-up to that noisy pleasure.
Why do I say that Cuddly Shark are the “least cool?” well, I’m quite positive that they’re cooler than me but still, there’s no denying that this brand of Hard-Rock-with-Laughs-And-Also-Emotions went out of fashion in the 00’s with white text on black background websites and skateboarding for no reason. But frankly, it makes a nice change…this is fun, except for when it’s sad and I like both of those things in rock music. Mmm…Rock Music: Shout-Along, Stop/Start riffs (“Overpriced”), maniacal hooks (“Body Mass Index”), BASS (“Doodlebug”), chugging quiet/loud (“Trigger Happy”) and even a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ torture scene sound-alike (“Broken Arm”) …girl, they could teach you more in a three minute record than you ever learned in school.
This isn’t an album that really benefits from dissection and analysis but it’s safe to guesstimate that the Shark hover in The Wildhearts’ seriously not serious territory while periodically genre hopping their way to a Mr Bungle comparison, though they’re perhaps at their stomping best when they act as an artificial rendering of what ‘Infrared Riding Hood’ may have sounded like if Tad were from the Scotch Highlands…nasty.
Cuddly Shark have started the New Year off beautifully and while this is not going to please a lot of the people who have clung too tightly to this whole electro-ambient-vocal-pop-drone thing, it’s going to be a real treat for those who are still glad to hear a little bit of thoughtfully produced Rock and Pop. Top drawer.
Words by Jamie Hallaman