Vocally flitting between a bedraggled Jeff Mangum and a perky Black Francis pepped up on one Pepsi too many, Sam Cook-Parrott is a precocious talent, no question. And Radiator Hospital’s début full-length Something Wild, a record we attempted to describe in scribbles only to essentially fail in fully rendering its irrefutable magnificence, ranks among our albums of the year thus far. It’s a work of staggering cohesion, despite the jarring dissonance the two disparate styles at its core can be known to provoke when merged to subpar standard. Though Cook-Parrott excels at the time-honoured loud/ quiet dynamic, competently piecing together the subdued (Big Cloud) and the stentorian (Ghost Story) in order that one enhance the other, and Something Wild should become a work of rich complexity, its myriad textures augmented by this sense of stark contrast. And as far as its out-and-out pop-punk doozies go, Our Song files itself amongst its twitchy standouts.
Paranoiac to the last, Cook-Parrott sneers: “Oh, you won’t get off that easy/ No, don’t say you love me/ When you know you don’t/ If you’re thinking that we’re through/ I won’t hold it against you/ You know I won’t” as suspicions surrounding his supposed betrothed intensify. “Every other morning I wake up and find that you’re gone/ The note says you went for a jog/ Maybe you’re just tired of sleeping in, or maybe you’d rather be running away” he concedes, his idiosyncratic metre becoming increasingly maniacal all the while and itself a runaway success, rarely is such restless punk this successfully married with a subject matter so outwardly meaningful.
But that which best exhibits Cook-Parrott’s keen ear for a kooky hook is the tumbledown Your Boyfriend – an equivalently angsty take, during which he plainly confesses: “I never looked at you this way, until I saw you today/ In every line in your face, I’m in love with you.” Though with the shoe this time on the other foot and his beloved already in another bed, he pleads she “go tell your boyfriend, it doesn’t matter in the end/ No this ain’t pretend, you know that I’m in love with you” as an initially scatty acoustic twang is later exchanged for a roisterous splurge of compulsive distortion. Self-aware ’til the end, or rather up to sometime producer Kyle Gilbride’s dextrous guitar solo, Sam recognises it’s “not fair to you, not fair what I put you through” although so long as he carries on going through the motions above and below, he can keep on giving us the runaround forever more…
Something Wild is out now on Salinas Records.