Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but The Cool Greenhouse are about to shatter glass ceilings with their self-titled debut LP.
Having caused a stir on the underground DIY label circuit with their inimitable, infectious brand of lo-fi post-punk in 2019, The Cool Greenhouse’s debut album shows off a newly developed, fuller sound, taking their signature style to previously unexplored heights while doubling down on their tried and tested formula of angular motoric riffs and no holds barred biting social commentary. The muffled 16-bit drum loops have been replaced with a full kit, the nonchalant vocal delivery has found a new edge and the sparse instrumentation has been augmented by the band’s finally agreeing to leave their bedrooms and enter the studio, yielding a fully-realised vision with fresh clarity and depth that makes their earlier recordings seem like mere blueprints.
A large part of what makes this a winning formula is frontman Tom Greenhouse’s way with words. Frequently topical and clearly political in some sense, Greenhouse’s lyrics side-step the on-the-nose delivery of traditional yawn-inducing political rock in favour of a strange idiosyncratic blend of pop culture snippets, patchwork narratives and oblique literary references. Bursting with humour and irony, the album deftly meanders from Rotary Club jumble sales to Margaret Thatcher’s living room to futuristic voyages into musical VR, taking aim at the gammon classes, rural conservatism and a host of other late-capitalist absurdities with razor-sharp wit along the way.
Discovering The Cool Greenhouse’s first 7” (which coincidentally mentioned his own surname) ace producer, sound engineer and mixer Phil Booth (Sleaford Mods, Jake Bugg) invited the group to his JT Soar studio in Nottingham. The old potato-packing warehouse offered an idiosyncratic working method for the band, who recorded the album over 7 days as live between kipping on its couches, 4am whiskey-soaked sessions and Mario Kart ’64 on demand. “Phil’s got all the kit and know-how, but the studio is rough around the edges with great character,” Tom tells. “There were weird little synchronistic miracles… discussing a song then seeing its title on a shop window, finding things in pubs straight out of our songs… these zapped me onto some sort of Jungian plane where I didn’t need sleep and knew just what to do.”
Blissfully instinctive, Tom’s lexicon flies across the album with the agitation of an internal monologue that won’t quit. From pop culture to cautionary tales, anything deemed too musically extravagant was swiftly removed before being mastered by Mikey Young (Bodega, Amyl and the Sniffers); “we added a tympani and clarinet but ended up taking it all off again” At times the Truman Show-trappings of ‘Trojan Horse’ or ‘Gum’s unsettling cowbell hint at the motoric. For now, whatever it is that gets you going, let’s just call it The Cool Greenhouse effect.