When Animals Attack: a reappraisal of Cable’s second album

This week on Storge is Cable Week – marking twenty years since the release of When Animals Attack with special features and a dedicated night on Wednesday 20 September at Black Rebel Coffee House. In this first piece Storge editor Sarah Lay re-assesses the album. 

September 1997: the nation is in mourning for The People’s Princess and are gathering musically around a re-purposed Candle In The Wind as Elton John begins a five-week stint at the top of the charts and becomes the best selling single of all time in the UK.

Elsewhere in music that year there has been a knighthood for Paul McCartney, a Hollywood Walk of Fame star for David Bowie, a slew of releases from the Spice Girls, the brightness of Britpop began to decay into Dadrock, and there was a number one from Derby band White Town with Your Woman.

And then there was When Animals Attack, the second album from cult angular noiseniks Cable.

Having already established themselves as Peel favourites with their early singles on Derby label Krunch! Records, and pretty much invented math rock with debut mini-album Down-Lift The Up-trodden, Cable‘s second album When Animals Attack delivered a hugely melodic but still scrappy sound.

It brought them to the attention of a wider-audience as Freeze The Atlantic was used on a Sprite ad (and spawned single b side We Did The Music For The Sprite Ad Blues), and played on the matching of non-standard time signatures with enigmatic lyrics. Structurally and in delivery there is a dream-like quality to the album, while the sound is far too substantial to be classed that way; kaleidoscopic rather than whimsical.

When Animals Attack was a step forward for the band, a still gritty but filmic slo-mo of their thrashing garage punk volatility. In producer Kramer (Galaxie 500) they found the space around the melody and more obvious pace changes in the songs. The energy was still there – explicitly so in Signature Tune and Do The Tube – but there was also more suspenseful passages – singles Bluebirds Are Blue and Whisper Firing Line use this to fine effect. The thrashing drums and lock-down bass still drive through the heart of every track but there’s variety and surprising turns between tracks while still having great cohesion as a collection too.

Quietly legendary When Animals Attack is a perfect calling card for Cable, a band who just got on with making music their own way rather than worrying about anything so fickle as fame. Timeless and continuing to inspire new music rather than just drag fans into nostalgia the album is part of a legacy which the band, and Derby, should be rightly proud.

  • Cable Night takes place on Wednesday 20 September 2017 at Black Rebel Coffee House (upstairs at Hairy Dog Derby) – entry is free, offers on Sprite, showing of the When Animals Attack promo film and album playback, plus an opportunity to play your favourite songs from around 1997. More information on Facebook.

There’ll be more Cable features throughout the week on Storge so follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest. Share your thoughts on the band and album in the comments below or on our social media profiles.

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