As we tiptoe graciously through all the wannabe Libertines and second-rate *U2*s to find something genuinely original, unique and inspiring, it seems dear old Leeds has come up with the goods again.
Not content with giving us the incendiary quirkiness of iForward Russia! and Bowie-esque pop thrill of Duels already this year, the intense-yet-aloof rock operas of The Scaramanga Six could be its most omnipotent discovery yet.
Not that The Scaramanga Six are exactly "new" in the strictest sense - Cabin Fever is actually their third long player - but for a band who've spent the last five or so years in and out of Joseph's Well so many times they've drunk it dry, this should be the record that finally makes the rest of the country sit up and take notice.
When the opening chorus of 'Soul Destroyer' kicks in, all swoonsome and graceful like a lost outtake from Attack Of The Grey Lantern, it sets the scene perfectly for a record that veers between pure operatic cacophony ('Pincers') and Rocky Horror-esque satire done in a Damned stylee ('The Poison Pen'). Singer Paul Morricone's voice ranges from the deep sinister echo of a fly-by-night horror film actor to a cochlea splitting falsetto that makes Justin Hawkins sound like Laa Laa from the Teletubbies.
Of course, if all this sounds pretty long-winded then there's always the odd two minute thrash about hiding electricity bills ('The Electricity Bill') and Pete Burns-fronting-Queens Of The Stone Age glam romp that is _'Unclean'. Still, it would be wrong not to hang on to the end for the Cheap Trick after ten rounds with a bacon slicer fury of 'Poison Fang' or malicious intent of 'Horrible Face', a five minute barrage of abuse where Morricone repeatedly informs us the subject is an "...ugly, ugly cow" over and over again.
On the whole, Cabin Fever is audacious in the extreme but without being overwrought and pretentious, making it a more enjoyable experience with every listen.
8Dom Gourlay's Score