Thoughts & Prayers

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. I Won't Work For You
02. Thoughts & Prayers
03. Smart Mouth
04. Dear Sir
05. For a Good Time (Don't Call Her)
06. Alone
07. Eating You Alive
08. Real Truth
09. Junkie
10. Drown

At some point between the release of their self-titled 2019 debut and the drip-fed emergence of "Thoughts & Prayers", CNTS lost a vowel. That is the least of their recent woes, however, as the LA band's lifespan was nearly curtailed when frontman Matt Cronk was injured in a brutal car accident, nearly losing his vocal cords in the process. He has since recovered — made of sterner stuff, these CNTS — and has reconvened with guitarist Mike Crain and drummer Kevin Avery for a second kamikaze act of disturbing the peace. If the first album was a blur of mutant punk with shades of POISON IDEA, DWARVES and GG ALLIN, the follow-up offers a souped-up version of the same, but with a giant, twitching hard-on for big, dumb rock gone left-field and horribly wrong.

Starting with the blazing hardcore sprint of "I Won't Work For You" (irrefutable confirmation that Matt Cronk is fully able to scream his head off again),  "Thoughts & Prayers" is a full-throttle experience that only pauses occasionally to draw breath and / or puke. Harder and tighter than its predecessor, it feels more overt in its nods to Californian hardcore, while striding enthusiastically into warped classic rock on the likes of "Smart Mouth": a deceptively strange mess of tempos that still manages to be obscenely catchy and enjoyably KISS-like (albeit if KISS turned up to work covered in blood and feces, rather than makeup).


The raging post-hardcore of "Dear Sir" keeps the temperature in the red, before "For a Good Time (Don't Call Her)" slithers into view, with its primitive drum machines and sinister gothic rock demeanor. Next, "Alone" snaps from fast-as-fuck hardcore to chuggy, caveman noise rock; while "Eating You Alive" is another pile-up of perverted punk riffs, with Cronk bursting blood-vessels and stripping the walls with his war-torn larynx. Emotional hardcore in the truest sense, then.

Similarly, "Real Truth" is a gnarled-out, rude awakening set to noxious, oddball riffs; and "Junkie" is freaked out and rattling with adrenalin, as Cronk becomes spaced out and hysterical over a distorted jigsaw of desperate, crusty ugliness that expands over six demented minutes. Laudably, "Thoughts & Prayers" gets weirder as it hurtles along, and "Drown" represents the apex of CNTS' collective madness. A slow-motion blizzard of feedback and glitchy theatrics, it lasts less than two minutes and might have withstood being significantly longer. But CNTS are not in the business of giving the people what they want. Instead, this is the untamed, drugged-out and uproarious distillation of what the people actually need. Embrace the wrongness. CNTS are sending their best wishes.

Author: Dom Lawson
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