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With their debut album last year, Sweden's Culkin were hell-bent on resurrecting the guitar to its rightful place. That is out of the hands of tepid singer-songwriters, boring and derivative metal bands and identikit indie bands. They were aiming for a golden age when those six strings could be stretched and contorted into different sounds. These weren't new sounds, they were directly influenced by the alt-rock and college-rock scenes o the 90s and recreated that feel to a high standard with the tunes to back it up. A year on they're back with the 'Sphynx' EP which again is like a loaded revolver of guitar-shaped bullets; distorted, unclean, unholy and noisy. They're ready to hit us with another six shots of rough, raw and ragged rock songs. Or are they?
Opening track, the instrumental 'A Song Of Lyre & Dice' is way more exotic; it sounds like some incidental music from a Western movie. This accounts for a whole 32 seconds of the EP. Following that they launch headlong into the blistering Sonic Youth meets Dinosaur Jr. of 'Atomized' and we rediscover the Culkin we know; the ones who don't treat their instruments as jewels that should barely be touched, let alone manhandled in such a brutal way. They space things out a touch on the distortion-loaded 'Spork Plug' (?), a track that recalls Pavement. You can work out what their record collections consist of and by this point dissecting the songs is somewhat pointless, but we will say that 'Born To Deaf' could easily have slotted on to the new Bob Mould album. They've borrowed sounds but the important thing is they've borrowed the right ones. And bonus points for finding a cat that does look a bit like the Sphynx for the cover.
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