Cherubs – Immaculada High

Music can often be heard as a finished product. It’s made professionally by people who have learned about music or production or sound engineering or any number of other technical skills relating to the recording and producing of music. The songs are expertly written by artists, developed by producers, optimized by sound engineers, and put to market by recording companies and publishers. What’s not often seen is that process. You don’t know exactly how a track or album came together. The little steps along the way to how a song was written can be a fascinating insight into an artist’s process. Cherubs lets you in on how the sausage is made on their latest, Immaculada High.

Cherubs is a longtime on-again/off-again Texas-based noise rock and post-hardcore band. They first formed in the early 90s, recorded a few albums, and broke up for 20 years. They reformed in 2014, and Immaculada High is their second record since the break-up. The noise rock they make is a pretty interesting idea in that it sometimes sounds as though it’s more of an unorganized jam, like there’s a band coming together with a bunch of ideas that’s slowly getting more organized. That might sound like a huge negative, but really it makes the album that much more intellectually interesting to listen to.

What makes this record so interesting is the production of it. It feels very lo-fi and without the modern frills of the recording studio. It kind of sounds like a group of buddies are playing together on the garage on a Saturday afternoon and recorded onto a tape deck. Everything is mixed together at seemingly the same levels so you hear everything pretty evenly. The vocals, guitar, bass, and drums are all on par with each other, so you feel this celebration of sound that only this kind of noise rock band can show.

This record is what modern garage rock should sound like, and any track on here will show that. The guitars are big and thick without a ton of studio effects on them. You can feel the bass rumbling through your headphones. The drums are big and brash as they should be, sometimes drowning out the other instruments (as they would in any garage) but always keeping the right beat on any given track. The vocals sound like the amateur in the garage, strained at times and always jockeying for position. But they positively add to every track in their space and time.

All that being said, Immaculada High is a fine record. It’s an interesting perspective on the songwriting process and a sound that is interesting and rarely predictable. Not every record can be described that way, and few bands are able to be as consistent in approach as Cherubs. While the concept is extremely interesting, it rarely commits that final stroke. It’s partially a result of the sound that tends toward the negative than into a positive conclusion. Negative here being an intentional lack thereof. So it can feel rather disjointed as a whole. However, that’s kind of the point here. If nothing else, Immaculada High is a welcomed academic exercise into the deep space of pop culture. For that, it’s worth quite a few spins.

Immaculada High is available July 26 via Relapse Records.

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