Schnauser - Irritant album review

Frisky sixth from Bristolian oddcakes

Schnauser - Irritant album artwork

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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.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.