Review: Mr.Phylzzz ‘Cancel Culture Club’

There’s an episode of the great satirical US comedy series Nathan For You where Nathan Fielder convinces a failing frozen yoghurt shop that in order to attract customers, the shop in question should start selling shit flavoured yoghurt in an attempt to appeal to people by going so ridiculous that it will enflame their curiosity. Against all odds, the ploy works, and the customers arrive in droves to sample the flavour in question, both amused and disgusted by the end result. That’s kind of the reaction that I feel like Mr.Phylzzz are going for, a feeling of enjoyment and slight repulsion, that allows for them to fit right in on the legendary Amphetamine Reptile roster.

Mr.Phylzzz 'Cancel Culture Club'

Toting a kind of buzzsaw, over-caffeinated pop songwriting, filtered through a wall of amps and topped with almost cartoonishly hyper vocals, the duo feels like a band out of time. This might be the most ‘90s sounding album I’ve heard since the actual ‘90s. Far less abrasive and a good deal more accessible than you might expect, with songs like Pretend Friends and In Memory Of A House Plant feel like they would have shown up in an episode of Beavis and Butthead to a chorus of ‘YESSSS’ from the boys.

People will call this noise-rock, but is it really? Fuzzed out and pounding, sure, but this has none of the abrasion that term might suggest. Take the chorus of the aforementioned Pretend Friends for example – it’s as catchy and harmonic as any classic rock banger you can think of. It’s like Lindsey Buckingham had left it on a  tape full of unused vocal hooks in a bin somewhere, only to be found by Oscar The Grouch and then sold to the Melvins, who are both literally and figuratively also all over this album with Buzz Osborne, and former Melvins member, Kevin Rutmanis making guest appearances.

Toting a kind of buzzsaw, over-caffeinated pop songwriting, filtered through a wall of amps…

While the catchiness and actual memorable vocal melodies in lieu of the usual Unsane style throat scraping are admirable, and the conciseness (the album clocks in at a square twenty-five minutes) more than welcome, there’s something about Cancel Culture Club that just doesn’t quite land right. During Daddy Wasn’t There, they literally break into the riff from Alice In Chains’ Man In The Box during the solo, and the suspicion that this might be a little too tongue in cheek for its’ own good arises.

Clearly, with the album title and tracks like I Took A Selfie At The Protest So Now I’m A Good Person, it’s clear they’re clowning popular culture, and that’s fine, but it starts to come across as some sort of weird skit. It’s hard to tell if they’re genuinely trying to make a point or just playing wind-up. And we’re back to the shit flavoured yoghurt again – sure, it’s a fun idea but it leaves a nagging aftertaste that you perhaps foolishly ignored, in spite of the fact it was clearly marked as something that might have one.

It’s a fun listen at high volume, a party record, and they know their way around a hook, but the humour that’s peppered throughout the Mr.Phylzzz modus operandi doesn’t quite land and that taints a musically fine record slightly. It’s hard to really enjoy the album when it feels like it’s taking the piss out of you, and while that may not have been the core intention, at times Cancel Culture Club feels like two pranksters making sure you know they’ll be getting the last laugh.

Label: Amphetamine Reptile Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Jamie Grimes