It’s great to see a band like Haggard Cat, who essentially trade on old-school, punky rock ‘n’ roll, but with invigoration and innovation behind it. A track like European Hardware is an excellent example of this. In the hands of a lesser band, this song might feel ploddy, but with the fast paced riffs and the high energy levels present here, it’s something of a thrill ride.
On first listen, this album might appear to be a little one-dimensional, but with further explorations you notice the variation. Musically, Haggard Cat pull from all manner of riff-driven rock music, from the desert-esque grooving nature of Queens Of The Stone Age on opening track First Words, to Every Time I Die on the thrashing Threads. This is an album that speaks through simplicity on the straight ahead stomp of Time, and then with complexity and style on the polemic that is Rational, where a flange-drenched and slightly ominous opening gives way to a sweeping majestic chorus. And that is before you reach the mid-period of Cheat, which sees a sun-kissed saxophone solo backed by keys, that would sound more at home on the soundtrack to an 80s film. That same saxophone then takes a wonderfully discordant turn as it leads back into a breakdown and the chorus hook in one of the albums most enjoyable double left turns.
The political nature of this record is undeniable, though more subtle than the likes of Stray From The Path, the aforementioned European Hardware and Rational both lean into more serious territory; the former is a satire on the ego-maniacal nature of the current political world, and the latter appears to ask the searching questions that are so often lost among the inflammatory discourse of today.
Although having mentioned Every Time I Die, a more appropriate comparison for the bands sound and more particularly, their feel as a whole may be the super group compromised of members of the aforementioned in tandem with members of Anthrax and Fall Out Boy: The Damned Things. Although less-inclined to give over to the party vibe that pervaded much of that group’s 2019 sophomore release High Crimes, Common Sense Holiday occupies a very similar wheel house in terms of turbo charged, punk injected modern rock n’ roll.
Haggard Cat have released their best record so far and perhaps one of the best in the members careers, which is no small feat when that back catalogue includes Heck’s Instructions.