Cancers: Fatten The Leeches

Behind a wall of heavily distorted guitar riffs and melodies, Cancers’ debut album, Fatten The Leeches, is a throwback to the grunge, punk and pop sounds of the 1990s. Their influence is apparent, channeling familiar sounds from the likes of Nirvana, Foo Fighters and The Smashing Pumpkins, but at the same time carving out their own brand of catchy hooks and in-your-face sound.

The album begins with “Be Cool,” sounding like an invitation back to the decade it pays homage to, with a chorus-driven guitar riff that shines over Ella Sternberg’s vocals, which sound eerily similar to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan. “Liar” serves as the interlude of the album, landing in the middle, harboring just Sternberg’s melancholy lyrics, a lead and rhythm guitar section, before jumping right back in to the driving punk-heavy “I Change.” Sternberg’s singing soars to new heights on the lead single “Dig,” with a main riff that invokes the feelings of discomfort and anguish as she croons, “Dig my heart out,” over and over during the verse.

It’s no mystery why the influences are so easy to point out through the album. Producer Jack Endino, responsible for Nirvana, Hole and Soundgarden albums, clearly replicates the heavy guitar and powerful drum fills that made the former bands so iconic on Cancers’ Fatten The Leeches. While sometimes Sternberg’s voice gets lost in the sonic picture, the lyrics are simple and emotive, and the band itself has a ferocity that contrasts her soft singing. This would just be another album if it were released in the ’90s, but at this time, Fatten The Leeches is a unique record that envelops a grunge pop chemistry without treading heavily on their musical influences, bringing the genre of a former decade to new audiences.

In A Word: Smashing