Village shops manned by government robots, Yoko Ono on treadmills stretching to infinity, elaborate musings on Margaret Thatcher’s (allegedly) dirty glasses – these are but a few of the quirky images that will seep into your consciousness as you listen to the self-titled debut of The Cool Greenhouse. Formed in the UK and headed by spoken word artist Tom Greenhouse, the band delivers minimalist post-punk with rich lyricism that gives thorough observations on everyday life. All with a large dose of clever witticisms that provide a unique perspective on everything from politics and pop-culture.
It’s astonishing to listen how the mundane can be surprisingly interesting with Greenhouse’s presentation. The harmonies that accompany him are intentionally minimalistic – with riffs that repeat in varying intensities of dissonance. This in and of itself can cause an angular kaleidoscopic effect not dissimilar to psych music, but coupled with the lyrics it all comes together in an avante-garde package that’s both thought-provoking and captivating. What’s even more surprising is how listener-friendly the whole album is despite its crazy ideas. The band uses repetition quite heavily in their music, balancing the whole thing together (perhaps so everybody can be in on the fun!).
Opener “The Sticks” is a fan favorite, where alien-like synths and guitar loops try to match the crazy musings of Greenhouse’s thoughts. In it he explains life in a small town with a lens that only he can deliver. He talks of conspiracy-theories where “ex-military personnel” are stationed at the market towns and “surveillance wires disguised as bits of spaghetti” are watching your every move.
Elsewhere in “Dirty Glasses” he delivers a made up anecdote of what I assume is an imaginary encounter with Margaret Thatcher and Freddie Hayek. He remarks again and again how dirty her aforementioned glasses are in a kind of offbeat Dr.Seuss manner. Inspecting his dense lyrics is just as captivating as listening to their unsettling repetitive harmonies, one that seeps into your consciousness like an Alfred Hitchcock scare.
While much of the songs in The Cool Greenhouse are esoteric in nature, the track “4Chan” opts to hit it right in the nose instead. It follows the life of an “incel” as he goes through the infamous message board to harass and troll snowflakes “for the lulz” because “it feels good man”. All with an accuracy and detail that hits 4chan and its chaotic subculture right on the head.
Brash, comical and with a boldness that’s uniquely their own. The Cool Greenhouse is paving their way to post-punk with a different approach, one that is off-brand but completely new and refreshing.