Postpartum by Be Kind Cadaver
The latest release from Difficult Art and Music is the intriguing doom pop debut EP by Be Kind Cadaver — be prepared to sing along to post-punk synth jams about the contemporary political landscape through the eyes of fatherhood
Be Kind Cadaver cite Self-defence family, The Birthday Party, Yeasayer, Jello Biafra and The Knife among their inspirations and this diverse range of touchstones are showcased in the personal form of electronic post-punk they produce.
Postpartum, their debut EP released on Difficult Art and Music, is a collection of evolving, multi-part songs that combine a noise punk aesthetic with electronic elements. Be Kind Cadaver create a shifting sound world to present their lyrical commentary on the contemporary political landscape through the prism of male postpartum and the trials of fatherhood — exploring issues as diverse as childbirth, gender, anxiety and existentialism. The use of synths backed with guitars and vocoders circling found sounds creates a uneasy platform for thematic values found in the lyrics to pour out with flowing motion and emotion. Songs are as long as they need to be, growing organically across vocal passages and instrumental interludes.
The first track, ‘A Gentle Stroll Through Modern Britain’, sets the tone and concerns of the EP from the first set of spoken word couplets.
Something’s up with the children / they just scream from the moment they wake / I guess they can tell that something’s broken / from the way we grown-ups complain
This lyrical pessimism initially seems in direct comparison to the twinkling percussion, chiming synths and vocal harmonies that accompanies it. In one light, the beginning of ‘A Gentle Stroll…’ could perhaps be said to share a certain ancestry with the calm before the storm style prologue of The Black Parade era My Chemical Romance and then … a moment of silence … welcomes in a surge of angst and waves of anxiety to pour out.
Teenagers in the park scaring women in the dark / They’re not the nicest creatures, haven’t had the best of starts
The lyrics are scared, angry, frightened; looking for answers from a male POV but finding very few. The emotional delivery of the words rises with the swell of the song and begin to have echoes of Isaac Brock at his best, as the music develops quickly into an catchy, indie-disco stomp. By the time a chorus enters the song has stealthily manipulated itself into a soaring melancholic anthem.
I tried to tell you how to walk how to run / I kind of hoped that you would play along
It’s a very strong start to the EP and does what a perfect pop song might hope to do: be clever in structure but still catchy as hell and pack an emotional punch and gets you singing as well. The refrain in the chorus: “Give me my ball back / I want to go home” is genius in its simplicity and stands in for so much as a poetic political statement on post-Brexit Britain. A strong mission statement that in another climate should sneak into the indie charts.
The title track begins with a slow swell of field recordings and synth washes before kicking into the doom pop song it becomes. Even this descriptor gives it a disservice though, as eastern-sounding strumming soon dances across rocking percussion and elevates it to another level. And then vocals return, however, this time they are more operatic — a spoken-word delivery in the mode of Martin Gore, perhaps, before rising to more of a rasping shout/cry for help.
I’m freaking out a bit I mean like honestly I’m done I’ll be the first to admit I’m postpartum
‘Postpartum’ is another fine example of clever songwriting. The chorus again is very strong, yet the refrain of “P O S T P A R T U M /I’m postpartum” has even more of a hook that reels us in.
‘The Centre Won’t Hold’ is the third track and thematic centre of the EP. This really rocks again but this EP demonstrates Be Kind Cadaver do not rock out like your average band. Heavy post-rock guitars and vocals demonstrating a range of emotion, plus, an effective use of vocoder, makes this a great reimagination of 80’s goth.
Despite the nasty bite of the music there are still moments of black humour sprinkled throughout the lyrics: “The end of days is coming but life is hard enough / It’s best not to dwell” and “I’m not much for conversation but we can cuddle if you want.” The song continues to build and build into a brilliant dirge that Liars would be proud of, before breaking apart at its closure. “All the light is gone” is sang and this track perfectly encapsulates this sentiment.
The EP comes to a close with ‘Pressure to Exist’ and begins with a collage of crosstalk across radio and news items, snippets of orchestra and just out of reach chatter. From out of the static rises a sombre bass line and then suddenly more vocoder over moving, bright synth lines, hand-clap percussion and a real groove. It’s yet another song which grows into a proper banger of a tune, backed by great drums and sense of propulsion. The vocal hook repeats a simple, yet endlessly vast, proclamation of anxiety, which sums up the genesis and on-going concerns of Be Kind Cadaver:
I’m under pressure to exist
The four songs on this EP were written, developed and recorded over the last two years. As we all know a lot has happened during these two years — both personally and politically — and Postpartum is a fine record of the literal birth and metaphorical death of living in a scary world. Raising children and becoming a parent has, and always will, bring its assortment of worries and concerns, but our current political climate does us no favours.
On this EP Be Kind Cadaver have put their hearts out for all to see and produced an angry, yet still melodic and uplifting, collection of diaristic vignettes and cerebral concerns packaged up in some stellar songwriting.
This is no white flag, though, I’m prepared to bet, just the first step in the band trying to seek out answers for their concerns. Parenthood never ends, worries always follow, so here’s hoping that down the line Be Kind Cadaver will produce a full length release in the vein of the catchy and quotable songs on this EP.
Be Kind Cadaver makes music for existentialists that still love to dance.
Postpartum by Be Kind Cadaver is available to purchase digitally now from Difficult Art and Music. A limited edition physical edition will be released on 21 July 2022 and is available to pre-order. This includes the EP on limited edition cassette, with accompanying art-print and photo-book.