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Schnauser - Irritant album review

Frisky sixth from Bristolian oddcakes

Schnauser - Irritant album artwork

Possessing a similar attention span to that of Cardiacs, Schnauser refuse to stay in one place for any length of time, musically speaking.

Irritant is fit to bursting with the kind of abrupt chord changes, wonky tempos and lyric impishness that have sustained them since their formation in 2005, singer-guitarist Alan Strawbridge leading the quintet through a thicket of songs at breathless pace. Strains of Soft Machine, XTC, Frank Zappa and Field Music are all present here, the band as liable to hurl themselves into a prog jazz jam as they are a psych pop interlude. And kudos, particularly from those of us who still remember it, for incorporating snippets of the mad theme tune from kids TV show Roobarb in the suitably weird Re-Mortgaging The Nest Of Hairs. Duncan Gammon’s keyboards and the restive sax motifs of Dino Christodoulou dominate, from the antic A New Atmosphere to Chinese Brainworm (Taenia Solium), which takes its queasy title from a very real tapeworm found in undercooked pork. Schnauser also know their way around a decent melody. Fail Better is the most pertinent example, dialling down the foolery and offering some pastoral serenity with a vocal that owes much to Robert Wyatt.