The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


The Cool Greenhouse
Crap Cardboard Pet Cal Cashin , January 30th, 2019 08:24

How much irony and repetition can we take? Really quite a lot, when it’s as good as this

It’s an oft-made observation that our attention spans are getting shorter, as we search for instant gratification via multiple screens in a post-Vine world where dramatic structure has to be honed into a perfect six seconds, and there is simply no need for any art to surpass the minute mark. Cut the waffle, skip to the good bits. I myself am part of the pandemic, writing this with the YouTube video “Every Fight Scene From Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” open on another tab, while frequently checking Instagram on my phone. You are probably the same, bar the lightsaber duels. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

Operating very much on the principles of repetition, irony and repetition, enigmatic bedroom project The Cool Greenhouse exist in diametric opposition to me and you and our stupid short attention spans.

On new EP Crap Cardboard Pet the inglorious crescendo arrives with the last track, ‘Crap Art’. Frontman Tom Greenhouse’s lyrical cut-ups tumble out of his mouth for the song’s entire nine minutes, atop the same magnificent monotone guitar riff that starts in the first few bars and doesn’t subside until the close. In spite of the length, and in spite of the repetition, Greenhouse is utterly enthralling. No: because of the length, and because of the repetition, there is not a single second that could be cut.

The song revolves around the refrain of “I like my _ to be _,” making increasingly, joyfully inane observations: “I like my liquids to be fluid / I like my singles to be long / It’s good value for money”; “I like my sevens to be sevens / And after six.” Often, Greenhouse’s lyrics are deliciously sharp: the David Cameron takedown of “I’m a West Ham supporter / Or was it Aston Villa?” on ‘Cardboard Man’ springs to mind, but plenty of the lines here deserve a T-shirt.

His voice is littered over every minute of the EP, but we never learn a thing about Tom Greenhouse – except perhaps that he’s fond of Mark E Smith, Julian Cope and No Bra – because every line is delivered through a thick layer of irony. Somehow, it never gets tiresome; Greenhouse has a rare ability to deal very much in irony and sarcasm without ever becoming annoying.

The Cool Greenhouse seemingly make music designed to wind up the overly protective parents from 80s sitcoms, but they will not infuriate your refined ears. Atop the exasperating organ lines of ‘Pets’ you can imagine Grampa Simpson declaring: “I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was, now what I’m with isn’t it anymore and what’s it seems weird and scary.” For you and me, though, this record oozes delight and is so very infectious in its charm.

Crap Cardboard Pet will quickly burrow its way into your psyche. It is a banquet, with plentiful servings of irony, double helpings of minimalism and a pile of obtuse lyrics. I like my singles to be good value for money. I like my bands to be funny, I like my Greenhouse to be Cool.