There are some debut records, be they singles, EPs or albums, that are a form of manifesto: a statement of intent, announcing “This is who we are – and the world will never be quite the same again”.
And so it is with Sex Cells and their double A single ‘Are You Ready?’/’Hell is Where the Heart is’.
The most obvious call to arms element of this first recorded outing is in the lyrics. ‘Are You Ready?’ is filled with promises of revolution from a snarling Willow Vincent (“Now we’re gonna blow up the schools/the factories, the towns, those miserable fools”). Meanwhile ‘Hell is Where the Heart is’ summonses “London’s lost rivers [to] arise” and issues the rather novel curse of “all the families you cleansed will haunt your white goods”.
Sex Cells is the latest project from Matt Kilda (once known as Lupen Crook) and Willow Vincent, following the demise of their previous band Lost Film Foundation. But where Lost Film Foundation was built around the standard band staples of guitars, drums and keyboards, the excellently named Sex Cells is a defiantly synth-based act.
It is here that the most important component of their mission statement can be heart. Bombastic lyrics from newly formed bands are ten-a-penny (even if they don’t all involved lines about possessed fridge-freezers), but what really separates the menaces to society from the boys is the delivery.
And Sex Cells certainly deliver.
In his previous lives, Matt Kilda’s music had a compellingly grubby feel. His songs as Lupen rook were the sounds of damp bedsits, overfilled ashtrays and Dirty Miles. Against this background he presented a catalogue of doom and despondency, of minds unravelling and the chaos, confusion and sadness this entails.
The mood was a present in the music as it was in the lyrics. Just listen to the gleeful cacophony of ‘Lest We Connect the Crooked Family’ or the battered a bruised ‘Chasing Dragons’ for further details.
Later, with Willow Vincent joining in for the Lost Film Foundation project, the same griminess re-emerged, this time with a more care-worn, world weary feel.
While the genre has changed distinctly, the attitude and mood remains very much in place. And again, this is as much down to the music as the words those melodies and beats carry. Sex Cells’ world is a murky, dingey place, filled with dirty synths and abrasive drum machines.
And so when Willow Vincent sings “We’re coming for you, we know you are” on ‘Are You Ready’, you know this is an underdog anthem, borne out of disaffection. There is no bravado here – no Liam Gallagher swagger; it is, as Jarvis Cocker once sang, dirtier than that. Far, far dirtier than that.
It’s a similar story with ‘Hell is Where the Heart is’. There’s an almost liturgical feeling to the song, with Matt Kilda playing the part of a faithless priest leading his despondent flock in their devotions. Once again, the filthy keyboard distortions add to the gloom, while the echo and reverb adds to the inverted ecclesiastical vibe.
It’s a grim sounding brace of songs that Sex Cells have offered for the debut. Far from the glorious revolution you might expect a new band to promise, Vincent and Kilda are threatening something much darker. Like Howard Beale in Network, they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take this any more.
You can buy ‘Are You Ready’/’Hell is Where the Heart is’ from iTunes
Find out more about Matt Kilda’s previous work as Lupen Crook, along with the history of many other bands and artists from Medway in my book, Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway, published by Cultured Llama.