Manchester five-piece Cabbage have always gone about things their own way. And though their idiosyncratic brand of acerbic post-punk and ramshackle indie rock might on occasion find the Mossley quartet with their tongues in cheeks, while they might not always take themselves too seriously, we certainly should. At least if their new record is anything to go by.
And admittedly, it’s difficult not to. Amanita Pantherina is Cabbages’s third LP, and similar to previous offerings is an off-kilter and an anarchic affair that’s impossible to pin down, careering through aesthetics with a wild and wilful abandon.
Indeed, rather than ease their listeners in gently, Cabbage opt instead to go for their jugular. Exploding from the speakers, a barrage of bass, drums and guitar takes the shape of “Leon the Pig Farmer” and offers little in the way of the relent over the course of its two minute run time.
Elsewhere, however, things are a little tamer. Previous single “You’ve Made An Art For (From Falling to Pieces)” is a deliciously loose indie-pop banger that harks back to the heady and halcyon days of late ‘00s indie in more than just its name alone. That is however Amanita Pantherina’s most accessible moment.
Following track “Get Out My Brain” is a baggy and psychedelic number, indebted as much to the bands of Madchester as it is the mind-altering effects of the record’s namesake mushroom, whereas “Raus” is a rhythmic and narcotic descent into hell, its pounding percussion and spoken-word both hypnotic and haunting.
From here the record dips somewhat, its snarling snottiness becoming difficult to differentiate track to track. That said, “I Was A Teenage Insect” picks things up nicely, a motorik beat driving the song incessantly forwards towards a chaotic conclusion. It’s arguably one of the album’s highlights and is just one example of where Amanita Pantherina succeeds in elevating Cabbage beyond the realms of just another post-punk band.
While on the surface it may seem that little has changed between this and 2018’s Nihilistic Glamour Shots, Amanita Pantherina feels darker, fiercer, and more experimental. And though the calamitous core of the band is of course ever-present, there’s refinement at play also. Not so much a calming of the chaos, but an ability to know when to unleash it, coupled with a richer musical pallet and understanding that nods to a deeper musicality than on previous records.
While I didn’t so much as go into this record with apprehensions, I wasn’t expecting it to be as three dimensional as it is. Much deeper and certainly more nuanced than anything Cabbage have released previously, Amanita Pantherina is the sound of a band solidifying themselves among the current post-punk royalty of Idles and Fontaines DC. A bold, brash and welcome return, despite a couple of hiccoughs.