Warm feedback slithers through our speakers and takes hold of our attention as we enter the title track of Cwiredband’s new record Angel Circuit Engaged, their follow up to their much-buzzed Omega EP also released last year. Before long, that feedback is harnessed and transformed into a scorcher of a melody produced by a feverish lead guitar and punctuated with the pummeling of a massive drum kit. The beats are big, but the riffs are even bigger, giving our lead singer a heck of a run for his money when he starts to croon against the rigid musical backdrop. Literate lyricism bonds itself to affectionate grooves as we slide into the transcendent “Botticelli Baby” and allow Cwiredband to take command over our psyche through unforgiving basslines and sterling six string rhythms that are bound to give you chills.
“Botticelli Baby” has an almost British AOR vibe to it but avoids the sorted realm of retro rock by utilizing a surreal shift in tempo several times during the track. The progressively designed “Climb the Mountain” is a tad more reckless, rising out of chaotic white noise and pushing its way to the forefront on the strength of a muscular bass part. Once we get into the minor key chorus, this song takes on a sort of heavy metal texture that is striking and startlingly well-suited to the vocal timbre of the singer. The bottom-end comes ripping through the darkness and assaults us with colorful tonality, the likes of which are typically reserved for instruments outside of the rhythm section, and by the time the track is over we’re as physically exhausted as we are mentally stimulated.
“Persian Woman” is where Cwiredband really starts to dazzle us with their multilayered style of attack. At this juncture of Angel Circuit Engaged, the group abandons any sense of cohesiveness implied in the first half of the EP and adopts a pointed, jazz-influenced approach to everything from time signatures to the relationship between the lyrics and the music. “Persian Woman” sways with a lush swagger in its verse, musically jarring us with its constant modulation and indulgent guitar fuzz. The solo that comes blaring out of oblivion around the 1:46 mark is Hendrix-esque, but it’s juxtaposed with an ambient grooving that is unexpectedly funky and cerebral. Put simply, just when you think you’ve got the direction of this record down, it throws another wonderful twist your way.
As we near the EP’s conclusion, we’re met with the climax of Cwiredband’s guitar excess in the suffocating “Angels Are Not Afraid of the Dark,” which sports a marching beat that veers off into sublime discord as soon as we find its central, heart-stopping melody. The electrified neo-bop of “Little Sisters” finishes us off with a strangely contrasting mixture of midcentury pop beats and modern day sonic sophistication, but by this point we’ve come to expect as many eccentricities out of this record. Brilliantly produced, exquisitely packaged and featuring a lot of substance for how relatively short its running time is, Angel Circuit Engaged is a worthy acquisition for anyone who loves fun rock music that is as thought-provoking as it is swing-inducing.