As anyone who’s recently tried to get to a bathroom mirror in an east London postcode could tell you, we’re currently enjoying something of a goth renaissance. However, while wan hipsters struggle with mid-gig hairspray re-application, the scene’s core bands struggle to free themselves from notions of melancholia and retro-fetishism. None more so than Kasms, whose frenetic garage rattle, post-punk tribalism and sense of the ridiculous (that mermaid sleeve!) suffer more than most. Hell, they don’t even take themselves seriously. Recently, firebrand frontwoman Rachel Mary Callaghan leapt offstage and got an audience member in a headlock; just imagine her out of Ipso Facto doing that!
Debut album ‘Spayed’, then, is their chance to tell us what they’re really about. And on this evidence, they’re all nuts. Ex-Test Icicle Rory Atwell furnishes the album with a shuddering backbone, his ominous tub-thumping the foundation upon which the glorious racket is played out. Beginning with a blast of noise before segueing into the punk thump-and-grind of ‘Male Bonding’, any notion of arty pretence or morbid posturing is undermined. ‘Insects’ reduces the tempo to a paranoid creep. “There are insects crawling in my bathtub”, chants a multi-tracked Callaghan over Gemma Fleet’s descending bassline. Even the comparatively forgettable ‘Siren Sister’ sizzles with brilliant no-wave scorn.
But it’s the pop necromancy of ‘Don’t Hit The Bottom’ that’s the highlight. Coming on like a great lost track off The Cure’s ‘Pornography’, you can feel the spirits fleeing to Callaghan’s aid as she berates some poor mortal because “you chose down”. Who can blame them? What a way to go.