Review: Cyanide Pills

One of the support bands at last week’s show was Leeds’ Cyanide Pills.  They grabbed both my and Hud’s attention due to their retro-image and their catchy sound, and after a week of getting rid of my tinnitus, I’ve been giving their eponymous album on Damaged Goods Records a listen. 

This is a massive – value 19 track collection of songs by the band, kicking off with the uber-catchy ‘Conquer The World‘.  Now these guys wear their hearts firmly on their sleeves.  They describe themselves shamelessly in terms of their influences – and I quote:

Buzzcocks Ramones Sex Pistols X ray spex Clash Vapors Damned Radio Stars Dictators Johnny Thunders Nosebleeds Crime Adam and the Ants Dickies Briefs

These influences do a bit more than  show through in the songs! The Cyanide Pills’ approach to their sound seems a little bit like the way the Japanese manage to observe, assimilate, refine and eventually outdo any new technology that they discover.  These guys have clearly spent their [mis]-spent youth poring over every scratched 7″ copy of ‘Marquee Moon’ and ‘Promises’ that they could find down the local secondhand record shop – they have produced an album so full of riffs [Buzzcocks], ‘OoohOoohs’ [Ramones], and catchy hooks [Dickies] that it almost hurts!

Overall impressions have to be taken at face value when you are faced with something like this.  Whilst I cannot and would not claim to have been at the Pistols show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, I did in the late 70s and early 80s acquire a stock of the singles that have clearly caused these songs to come into existence.  And because of that, I am now disturbed to find that I belong to the generation of boring, jaundiced old farts who mumble It weren’t like that in my day, lad!  when I hear music so self-consciously revivalist as this.  Whereas, of course, this music may have a completely different effect on a listener who is perhaps half my age and who didn’t go through the whole thing back in the day.  But let’s put all that aside for a moment.  How did this make me feel?

Well, it brings to mind Perfect Daze and their unselfconscious, bubblegum pop-punk.  It’s unashamedly good time music and does not demand to be thought about too deeply.  The tunes are good, the sound is authentic, and it bears more than one listen, which I admit I thought would be a problem when I first heard it.

Cyanide Pills have caught me out really, and the joke is clearly on me – as soon as they hit the stage at the Brudenell last week, the cartoon image – flourescent ties, wrap around shades, baseball boots, the ephemera of 77 punk as you might collectively term it, I was ready to judge them as a novelty, a modern day Toy Dolls or a Damned tribute band. But I have to admit that this is a good old kick up the ass for anybody who claims to be open minded but actually just likes over analysing such things.


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