Like the animal their name plays on, Cheatahs do not hang around. Just over a year after releasing their eponymous debut album, the London-based quartet are back with the follow up, Mythologies. Then again, considering their first LP, which saw the band dalliance with shoegaze and grunge rock sounds, was met largely with glowing reports, it is far from surprising that they would want to build on that success.
In fact, the output of Dean Reid (bassist), James Wignall (guitar), Marc Raue (drums) and Nathan Hewitt (vocals/guitar) is now so regular it makes you wonder whether they ever get out of the recording studio. As well as releasing their debut and writing their latest effort, Cheatahs have found time in between to produce two EPs, Sunne and Murasaki, which demonstrated that the band were by no means a one-trick pony.
This relentless push towards experimenting with their sound – which they have always claimed could not be easily categorised under shoegaze, despite taking inspiration from bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Boo Radleys – is evident on Mythologies. Recent single Seven Sisters is a perfect example of what the record is all about, with its psychedelic melody and distant guest vocals from Liv Willars and Heather Perkins giving the song a haunting quality.
Cheatahs’ Sunne EP was an early indication that that they had expanded their soundscape, but Mythologies takes it to another level. It is the work of a band confident in what they are doing, as evidenced by album opener Red Lakes (Sternstunden). In a complete contrast to the noisy, frantic opening to their debut, it is a melodic, slow-burner that owes a huge debt to the baggy scene of the early ’90s.
The song introduces the listener to the sprawling, atmospheric world of Mythologies, which is remarkably easy to become immersed in. It is followed by Channel View, a song that packs a bit more of a punch – with its crashing beat and intense vocals from Hewitt – while In Flux revolves around a repetitive guitar riff that makes it arguably one of the most infectious offerings on the record.
As the album progresses, Cheatahs continue to create a wall of sound, but the pace picks up a gear on tracks like Deli Rome and Colorado, where Hewitt’s vocals are effectively drowned out by a cacophony of guitars. It is slightly more reminiscent of the thrashing, heavier moments from their first LP, although it is handled in such a way that it doesn’t feel out of place when played alongside the more ambient opening tracks.
Freak Waves is another that could easily have ties with Cheatahs’ debut. It is a rollicking song that relies on an irresistible, head-bang worthy guitar riff and a singable chorus – one of the few floating around on Mythologies. Yet even when the band do stray into old territory, it still sounds fresh and invigorating and provides the perfect accompaniment to their more daring efforts (like the synth drenched Signs To Lorelei).
There is no let up as the record moves towards its conclusion, either, with lead single Murasaki delivering thrilling five-minute sprint, full of erie background noise, as Hewitt sings about love in Japanese. Penultimate track Mysteci is a luscious, hazy anthem, while Reverie Bravo ensures that Mythologies goes out on a high, wrapping up an enthralling 50-plus minutes.
Considering that it took them five years to create their debut, the fact that Cheatahs only needed a little over a year to produce Mythologies could have been a cause for concern. However, there was absolutely no reason to worry, because the record doesn’t just match the standard of their first, it surpasses it. That is quite some achievement and, fingers crossed, we won’t have to wait too long to see where they go next.