Chemtrails’ debut, Calf of the Sacred Cow, delivers low-fi garage pop with a tinge of psychedelia. Romantic and freakishly endearing, the album has a certain charm to its experimental sound. From the psychedelic boar on the album cover, to the outlandish track names, it may seem surprising to learn that this collection is not only brimming with catchy songs, but has a lot more to it than meets the eye.
The London-based group return from two successful EPs with a collection of classic bangers. The opening track ‘A Killer Or A Punchline’ sums up the band’s ability to draw in themes of death and destruction while channelling it into polychromatic psychedelic pop heaven. The dual vocals of Mia Lust and Laura Orlova paired with blaring garage guitars makes for an unbeatable stomp-along first single.
Following on, ‘A Beautiful Cog In A Monolithic Death Machine’ may sound like a mouthful, but is really fun to sing along to. Channelling Pixies and King Gizzard vibes, the fast-paced anthem has a retro feel with its low-fi aesthetic. ‘The Ghosts Of my Dead Cats’ is another standout that exemplifies how the band is able to use psychedelic images of death and spin them in a way that creates a freedom within the track.
This sense of fearlessness is carried on in ‘Watch Evil Grow’; with blaring guitar riffs and clever lyricism, it also reflects what Lust has said inspired the album: “In most of the songs I was venting frustration at the world we’ve grown up in, and at our apparent inability to change it. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the dark subject matter is wrapped up in psychedelic language, and musically speaking the album is pretty upbeat.” By drawing on experiences of living as a transgender woman, she’s able to tap into sentimental themes yet also package them in a way that’s positive and uplifting, with some really emotive instrumentals.
This first album from Chemtrails is unapologetically bold. The combination of garage, psychedelia and mindful lyrics results in something that feels truly original. A big release from an underground band that are ones to watch.