Before writing my first review of an all-girl combo for a music site which was originally launched as a feminist zine, I wrestled with a little trepidation with regards to how it should be tackled. In the end I came to the conclusion that fuck it, its 2014 and women being in bands shouldn’t even be something that is seen as out of the ordinary anymore. Music – and punk in particular – prides itself on being inclusionary – and everybody has a right to get involved, whether you wear a dress or have an impressive Fu Manchu moustache. Or both. Music should be judged on its own merits and not on who is making it. The Kut hail from London and describe their sound as ‘basement rock’. Make Up is the most stark game of two halves going; in equal parts compelling and frustrating.
The EP begins with ‘No Trace’, which is a brooding, slow burning number, with menacingly fuzzed up guitars. For a band touting themselves as basement rock, there is an impressive amount of ambition on show here with keys and backing vocals giving the chorus something of an epic tone. This is the sort of crossover jam aimed squarely at huge arenas. The EP’s title track follows a similar formula, with an incredibly metal guitar solo and maybe a bit more of a straight up indie feel. On both of these songs you feel that The Kut are holding something back. The vocals are clean and controlled, everything has its correct place in the mix and to be honest, a giant, scuzzy snarling Distillers chorus wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Something changes with ‘Mario’, the third track on the EP, though. Gone are the high production values and studio glimmer and in their place a gloriously dirty guitar riff. Comparisons to Hole and L7 will no doubt be levelled at The Kut but really, ‘Mario’ has more in common with grunge nearly-men Mudhoney. Despite its dirt and grit, ‘Mario’ is the hookiest work out on offer here, with the drums taking a serious beating. Suddenly, the first two songs seem even weaker and more sterile.
The EPs two final cuts are even less produced and all the better for it. Closure is more considered with plenty of space for the sinister guitar lines to wind through. The heaviness is allowed to build rather than being laid out from the very beginning. DMA closes the collection with a slinky Gang of Four bass line and an absolute monster of a chorus.
For The Kut, it seems like less is certainly more. Make Up seems like a band still trying to work out whether they want to make a brilliantly hideous racket or make an attempt on the mainstream. Either way, there is plenty of potential on show here.
3 out of 5 high fives!