Self-described ‘ambient punk’ four piece ‘Cutters’ have brought a fairly unique release to the table with their rather solemn 3 track EP. Built around some rather personal trials, an integral part of the album’s structure is clearly focused on the vocals, a feature that at some points risks drowning out the potential creativity of the instrumentation.
Opening track ‘List of People Buried at Arlington National Cemetery’ is, and it’s clear from the first few seconds, an extremely fast paced angst ridden anthem. It's easily as punk as this album gets; the following two tracks slow in pace and just don’t have the same punch that is most recognisable as punk. Absolutely not a criticism, however, as if anything this opens their EP up to a wider audience and doesn’t make the mistake of constraining it to a narrow genre with a finite fan-base. Although they deal with various related themes a combining feature is the lead singers struggle with gender-identity fairly prominent in the first track with its opening line “I was born right in between, both and neither, king and queen”. I’m sure many interpretations could be drawn from the song and its lyrics, as is the nature of music, but personally I picked up on the unusually long title’s reference to the respect and grandeur regarding people who have fought physical battles. Perhaps highlighting the discrepancy in how people fighting internal battles are treated and in a community where depression and suicide is prevalent simply pointing out the abhorrent and often needless loss of life. Whether my interpretations are accurate or not, it does show that the author of this song has done a large part of his job in at least making me think.
Neither of the following tracks gave me the same desire to ponder their deeper meanings but second track ‘Wicked & Divine’ is my favourite track from a strictly musical perspective. Where the opening track’s aggressive vocals did perturb me, ‘Wicked & Divine’ provided a more pleasing tone and I genuinely enjoyed the vocals in this song. At less than two minutes long I do feel it could have been longer as the only acceptable reason for a song to be as short as this is when an upbeat anthem leaves you so physically drained from dancing it has to cut itself short. This clearly isn’t the aim of this song and I’d have been capable of enjoying it for twice the time it actually lasted.
Third and final track ‘Fade to Black’ is a slow song with more emphasis put on the instrumentation than either of the other tracks giving some credence to their description of ‘ambient’ but rather uncharacteristic of ‘punk’. Its melancholy tone is quite different to the opening track of the EP and as mentioned, but worth repeating, ‘Cutters’ avoid constraining themselves to a pre-defined genre and this gives them the potential to progress with any future releases.
‘both//neither’ does risk turning away some listeners with the acquired taste of its opening track but I definitely give the track merit for having depth. The following songs are much more easily accessible so I feel most people will garner some enjoyment out of them even if their length is lacking. I do recommend you give their EP a listen at the link provided and make your own mind up on whether it’s something you enjoy enough to buy. Maybe one to watch for future releases and see if they make something of the potential they’ve shown.