Cloak/Dagger [I]Lost Art[/I] Review

CLOAK/DAGGER are putting a waterproof seal around the band’s early hardcore foundation, wrapping up with the past and moving forward to a punk/garage present. Whatever has fueled the band’s transition, it bears a certain similarity to the one taken by Canadian stars FUCKED UP. Lost Art, like the former’s The Chemistry of Common Life, is a comparatively stripped down affair that puts great emphasis on gyrating guitars, blister-forming bass lines, and manically disposed lead vocals.

There is a serious amount of fuzzed-out boogie in Lost Art, which makes sense when you cram 13 songs into 30 minutes and barely take the time to adjust tempos and song structures. With the straight-line sting of pea-shooter ammunition, CLOAK/DAGGER cut through the surface with sardonic, observational lyrics (”Sell us more fast food and dreams of fast cars / we’ll just eat shit and smile and take the finance charge”), and stir-crazy frustration. “Same Old Story” is a push-through-the-boredom slashing edict that admits defeat over inspiration (ear burning guitar licks notwithstanding), while album opener “Billions Millions” is a cheeky riff on rich and famous dead musicians (with a major HOT SNAKES musically lean). Lost Art’s standout is the fifth track, the scorcher “Deathbed Rebels” which pauses the band’s mainly mid-tempo garage rock for an early blast of LA punk that shrouds the vocals in a cloud of dust.

I’m almost never immediately bowled over by music in this style — too little of it sticks out at first, and with few exceptions, that’s true about Lost Art, but dammit, this one’s a grower, and it won’t take long for its sour, snotty attitude and aesthetic to burrow into place.

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