Kitten Pyramid: Uh-Oh!

Motley Midlands crew conjure up eclectic romp of a debut.

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You’re always encouraged when a band is pictured on a CD sleeve looking like a day trip from a rehab centre. And it suits them well: The jumble of styles and influences this Burton-on-Trent five-piece bring to the table make for the kind of wildly idiosyncratic, original sound that many a band aims for but few get close to achieving. ‘I want to see you naked in an open field,’ sings frontman Scott Milligan by way of a fine ‘how d’you do’, and from there on all bets are off as to what the next bar of music will bring.

That opening track, Chester, begins with crunching power chords and thumping rhythm before excitable mariachi horns steam in, like a gang of Mexican bandits gatecrashing a street drinkers’ party. Whale follows with a strange slide-guitar driven chant-folk mantra before the delicately psychedelic Red Shoes channels Syd Barrett in its swirling oddball surrealism. It’s all entertainingly wrong-footing stuff, and when you learn that these songs will feature in a movie made by Milligan about his mentally ill Polish uncle, centred on a day in his life after checking out of hospital, it only adds to the sense of ‘WTF?’

The expect-the-unexpected theme continues as current single English Rosa’s circus folk descends into a cacophonous mess, but then Traffic builds from a soft acoustic lament into an arms-outstretched, anthemic swell that would be the envy of Coldplay in arena-straddling mode. This further instils the feeling that this mob could pretty much turn their hand to any style that took their fancy, and that’s before the title track blasts from the speakers, full of staccato energy and rabble-rousing parochial hardcore punk for the first minute and a half, before its doors are flung open onto windswept piano and horn-strewn vistas, with a sky-scraping guitar solo to see us out. ‘There goes the Pyramid army,’ Milligan observes later, ‘with their bags of peshwari. They’re waiting for us by the bins… in their ladybird jumpers.’ I bet they are.

I mean, what’s the target demographic for this kind of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to music? Well, whoever they are, Marmalade’s superb glam rock chorus suggests they’ll be able to buy some pretty unique merchandising: ‘Kitten Pyramid hand grenade, Kitten Pyramid marmalade’. After a twin-guitar outro is thrown in, just because they can, we end with the piano-laced reverie of Nod Off, its a metronomic tempo lulling you woozily in before noodling guitar and organ tickles meander off into that good night with a tale of a trip ‘across to China in an Oompa-Loompa’s bed’. It’s a fittingly barking end to a gloriously strange musical rollercoaster ride.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock