sharkalbum72dpiLet’s see: the band’s name is Cuddly Shark, the self-titled album cover depicts a dog seemingly dying from either heatstroke or boredom (perhaps both) and there are song titles such as ‘The Punisher of IV30’ and ‘Instru-Mentalist.’ A cursory glance of the Glasgow trio suggests that Cuddly Shark isn’t to be taken too seriously, or at all. Never mind the name. Put all of that aside, though, because the lyrics top everything else. Take ‘What Goes Around,’ for example: “I threw away my dad, my daughter and brother/ The only way we talk is through our lawyers/ That’s the kind of shallow person I am/ What goes around comes around.” Or how about the cover of Hoyt Axton’s ‘Boney Fingers’ with the deliciously absurd chorus, “Work your fingers to the bone/ What do ya get?/ Boney fingers.” They didn’t write it, granted, but what other song could this band have chosen?That said, ‘Woody Woodpecker’ suggests that the band isn’t solely interested in making you guffaw. The lyrics detail a failed relationship, with the narrator’s ex labeling him “a dick [he doesn’t] wanna be.” That would certainly point to the band wanting to be taken seriously, if only for a song or two. But then the song ends with, “Now you’re acting funny when you’re hanging with me/ Woody Woodpecker pecking on a tree/ standing in the kitchen going ‘peck peck peck peck peck peck.’ On one level, it’s silly. Yet, on another it’s quite brilliant – it’s a satirical take of how preposterous relationships can be, and, in the case of the endless stream of peck’s, how irritating a partner can be. This band, and its sense of humor, is smarter than it appears on the surface.The song structures hint at intelligence, too. They range from front-loaded Zeppelin punkers like ‘The Sheriff of Aspen Bay’ and ‘Bowl of Cherries’ to acoustic, country-tinged numbers such as (the first half of) ‘Woodpecker’ and the aforementioned ‘Boney Fingers.’ Then there’s the pair of songs that don’t’ really fit in either category. That’s not to say they don’t belong on the record, it’s just that they’re different. ‘Whiteoaks’ is an indie pop tune which contains a melody that sounds like something Green Day would write if Billie Jo didn’t try to be so damn socially relevant all the time. The other song of the pair, ‘Shakey Baby,’ starts out as a straight-up indie rock track, then becomes a staccato-fueled rant before returning to its sideways guitar melody. It’s one of many seamless transitions the band makes that throw you off (in a good way) upon the first spin. The most ridiculous track (read: the most entertaining) is the fifty-one second ‘Jamie Foxx on Later With Jools Holland’ which finds the band banging on its instruments with a surge of hyper-determination while “I heard you sing the worst song I ever heard” – presumably aimed at Mr. Foxx – is repeated. While the song may be tongue-in-cheek, by the end it doesn’t matter because you’re convinced the lyric isn’t a personal opinion, but a scientific fact.Admittedly, I know very little – that is, nothing – about Cuddly Shark’s hometown of Glasgow. Thus, I cannot with any intelligence comment on what effect the Glasgow music scene has on CS’s sound. Or, for that matter, if Glasgow even has a scene particular to it. However, what I can say is that, at least from an American perspective, the band isn’t following any current trend. Yes, it’s atavism but is thankfully not connected to the post-punk revival. The members of CS clearly worship ‘70s hard rock and punk, specifically Zep and the Pistols. Simply stated, the band wants its fans to remember when rock was fun. Remember fun? The effect of this is to give the album a throwback charm utterly refreshing in a way that revisiting Joy Division doesn’t.RECOMMENDED