KISS has many interpretations. You know the old one, you probably swear by another, but the best one is “keep it sweet and simple.” Cowtown’s Paranormal Romance exemplifies this lil’ bit of homespun knowledge, as the album barely clocks 23 minutes. And that’s fine.
Do you really need to make a long-ass, prog rock oeuvre to say something? Not really, sometimes a curt approach has its rewards. You might end up feeling you need more and that’s the thing, Cowtown peddles a Pacman-shaped, blueberry tasting pill that hooks you with its sweet and tangy flavours. Heck, they even have a theme tune for the album and it has the perfect length for the opening title of a show.
Paranormal Romance is not minimalistic, though, it’s just short breaths, quick routines, repetitions and move on to the next machine, and please wipe your sweat. Take the video for ‘Castle Grayscale’, a bass heavy strain of infectious punk. It never lets go, it never slows and has enough time to spare for a sweet little solo to jump in a field of mushrooms, Centipede style.
You might notice that I’m starting to use too many toy and game analogies and it’s because I always felt Cowtown could work as the soundtrack for an unseen tv show featuring toys playing videogames in an arcade after humanity has gone extinct (choose your own reason.) The playful camaraderie, the tv-show length of the album (including a “now I know” moral piece – ‘Captain Planet’) and the perfect closing tune in the hook-laden ‘Let go’…of course this has to be a TV Show!
Sorry, I probably lost myself and you right now. This review is now the opposite of the album. It’s not direct. It’s not catchy. It’s not something to tap your foot to (and maybe take a short run anywhere). Paranormal romance slides into life like little tangential thoughts. You might not get anything done, but with those moments of “nothing” comes inspiration.
And that’s why I love Cowtown, they are those hazy moments when your mind wanders and you end up with something cool that just pops up. You get a million thoughts rushing in, to the tune of ‘Tweak’. Perhaps a few cling to your axons and dendrites, like ‘Castleman’. And maybe one of those wild ideas becomes like a freight train howling through your mind, the way ‘Emojicore’ does, with the music changing as it speeds away into darkness.
Paranormal Romance: haunting splashes of synth punk with enough panache to leave an impression but a short stay to make you miss ’em like hell when it’s over.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López