After years of solid single and EP output, Manchester, England upstarts Cabbage delivered their proper debut full-length, Nihilistic Glamour Shots. Retaining their tongue-in-cheek wit, outspoken politics, and raucous psych-punk style, the quintet tightened their focus and doubled down on the darkness, taking big steps away from 2016's cheeky "Dinner Lady" in a move similar to Arctic Monkeys' mid-career turn into the shadows. Taking cues from that band -- as well as a few from Kaiser Chiefs, the Fall, Gang of Four, and Iceage -- Cabbage packed Nihilistic Glamour Shots with devilishly catchy tunes that groove with elastic bass and jitter off the hinges with jagged riffs and manic drumming. The opening triplet amps the energy to a fever pitch with big surf bopper "Preach to the Converted," the swaggering "Arms of Pleonexia," and the punk attack of "Molotov Alcopop." Much-needed breathers are evenly distributed: there's the slow menace of dusty outlaw lament "Disinfect Us"; the occult creep show of "Perdurabo"; "Reptiles State Funeral," which cribs a pounding industrial beat straight from NIN's own "Reptile"; and the extended outer-space-comedown "Subhuman 2.0" that takes cues from early Bowie. Overall, however, Nihilistic Glamour Shots maintains its manic spirit with whiplash tracks like "Postmodern Caligula," "Gibraltar Ape," and the wonderfully titled "Obligatory Castration," one of many socio-political salvos that Cabbage lob along with their mad sonic attack. Dark, dangerous, and addictive, Nihilistic Glamour Shots is a strong opening statement from Cabbage, jolting listeners with sly humor, anti-establishment sneer, and enough sonic variation to hypnotize and invigorate.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung