In their self-titled third album, Delaware’s Khaki Cuffs mixes twinkly midwest emo with screamo and pop-punk in a sub genre that they’ve started to call mongocore (although I’m not quite sure everyone else has caught up to that yet). What sets this band apart from their other contemporaries are the moments of clarity and profound insight that perfectly illustrates life as a young adult. The genre has never been one to away from sensitive matters, but it can sometimes get caught up in juvenile delinquency, relationship melodrama and self harm. Issues which are real but are often too romanticized to their detriment. I don’t see a lot of that here, instead the band fairly articulates complex emotions of nostalgia, feelings of inadequacy and frustrations in a practical light. This sort of maturity is refreshing, especially when you hear someone talking about investing wisely in a genre that’s made by and for a younger demographic.
Songs in the album can be categorized in two halves, both of which are pop-punk and screamo, with equal helpings of math-rock embellishments.
The pop-punk section includes “Cool Cat Saves the Kids”, which talks about feelings of nostalgia for high school in a style reminiscent of 2000’s pop punk. “Caffeine Cops” is where the aforementioned line on investing comes from, and is written from the perspective of someone realizing that their life is short and they need to plan for their future. The later “Wow, College Sure Is a Lot Harder the Second Semester” is somewhat of a sequel to this. It tackles the stark realization that life is hard, and the narrator is having thoughts of giving up. It also sheds light on feelings of inadequacy and fear in not living up to the expectations of a parental figure, something that anyone can surely relate to despite their age.
The other half celebrates the lung-busting traditions of hardcore. “How to Turn Your Emotional Anguish Into Cold Hard Cash” has the emotional anguish part down to a T. Twinkling riffs give it a dance-y vibe while the vocal-cord tearing vocals are sure to make this a hit on the mosh pit. “The Ford Broncos Vs. The Green Day Slackers” sounds dark and menacing with its musings on loss and feelings of weakness. The twinkle is gone, replaced by a thick wall of noise and drums that could smash through the walls. The heaviest track of the album.
Khaki Cuffs latest release is a strong offering full of variety and a good production to back it up. Fans of the genre are sure to find their favorites as well as a good amount of surprises. The band isn’t very well known as of yet, but with releases like this, it should only be a matter of time.