Fuck : Cupid’s Cactus

Slanted enchantment from the unfortunately named

It isn’t just Fuck’s unwise moniker that has guaranteed these Californian oddballs a lifetime of noble obscurity; their lo-fi scribbles are perhaps the most understated of the genre. Not for them the irresistible hooks of Guided By Voices, or the addictive miserablism of Sentridoh: no, Fuck prefer an altogether more enigmatic flavour of pop jollies – a ghostly creak of slide guitar, a croaked vocal – that’ll hook into your heart for weeks to come.

‘Cupid’s Cactus’ is their first album for Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records, and while it lacks the immediacy of their records on Matador, there’s certainly plenty of deftly perverse pop action here. ‘It’s Unbelievable’ sounds like Pavement stirring from a year-long stupor to lay down some emaciated doo-wop action, while the languid, minimal ‘Melt’ does just that: muted cymbals and guitars dissolving underneath sardonic sleeptalk vocals.

The general air of never-trying-too-hard is what gives much of this album its charm, but also perpetuates Fuck’s cult status, which they’re doubtless happy with. Theirs is a subtle magic, well-worth straining for.

Stevie Chick