Cheatahs merge the genius of Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr to create an EP that’s dripping with potential
The previous year had seen two landmark releases for the scene. Grunge laid its mark first, with Nirvana releasing Nevermind in September, before shoegaze responded with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, both of these coming four years after one of alternative rock’s early benchmarks, Dinosaur Jr’s You’re Living All Over Me. I’m not sure whether Cheatahs were even alive in 1992, let alone 1987, but that’s not stopped those three albums shaping the sound of their magnificent Sans EP.
Opener The Swan starts with a melody that resonates with beauty of Dinosaur Jr’s finest moments, before breaking into a rift that sounds like Kevin Shields and Kurt Cobain jamming on the edge of a cloud in alternative rock heaven. There’s even a sprinkling of Foo Fighters at their best in the crunching bridge. It’s fantastic. Not just the best alternative rock song I’ve heard this year, but the best I’ve heard in many years, it serves as a microcosm of the EP, with the remaining songs Sans itself, Fountain Park and Flake all taking the throbbing baselines and laconic guitar melodies of Dinosaur Jr and adding the hushed vocals and waves of guitar MBV, together with the bristling pop brilliance of Nirvana.
Whilst Sans may not see Cheatahs operating at quite the level of their illustrious forebears, what’s most exciting about it is that it makes you believe they soon will be. Such is the strength of their songwriting, and the ease with which they wear their influences, that you can only see them improving. Sans leaves you feeling such affection for Cheatahs that you want to both share it with everyone and keep it to yourself.
Verdict: Recalls the heyday of alternative rock – and promises to match it