Album Review: CNTS – Thoughts & Prayers

4.5/5

Since CNTS released their debut album in 2019, they have dealt with a bunch of setbacks that would have killed lesser bands. Guitarist Michael Crain was diagnosed with, and beat, cancer. Then, a few years later, vocalist Matt Cronk lost his ability to speak due to a freak car accident. Miraculously, his voice came back in 2023.  After a few practices at which Cronk was able to sing with little difficulty, they decided to continue on as a band.

Now, CNTS returns with, their sophomore album, Thoughts & Prayers. This album draws on several years of frustration and hardship to deliver one scathing indictment of modern society in all its ugliness. Cronk’s lyrics are less oblique and more to the point. After going through what he went through, he has no time to mess around. In addition, they made sure each song worked as a “song.” AC/DC was a major influence. (No kidding.) It shows. (Still not kidding.) This is one catchy, angry, and explosive detonation of an album. It rages, but also rocks.

Album opener “I Won’t Work For You” showcases the band’s new approach to song craft. It features a big, catchy riff, along with a relentless beat, while Cronk vents about the inequities of modern work. The title track that follows has a  hard-rock-gone-punk, feel to it, while “Smart Mouth” pushes the swagger and catchy choruses to the forefront,  never losing its edge. It could be a “hit” in an alternate world that actually values good music.

“Dear Sir” starts off at a blistering pace that gives way to another big riff and chorus. “For A Good Time (Don’t Call Her)” features an electronic drum beat and raunchy guitars. Cronk sings over the drum beat until the guitars come crashing in on the chorus, giving it extra-oomph. It’s an experiment that succeeds. This one is pretty damn catchy, too. (Well, actually, all the songs are this way.)

“Junkie” is a harrowing song about life as a drug addict. At 6:10, it’s the longest song on the album, and features all the things that make this album, and band, great. There are a big, caustic riffs, faster explosions of hardcore punk, skronky noisy parts, all topped off with Cronk’s scathing vocals and honest lyrics.

Thoughts & Prayers is one motherfucker an album, and CNTS have made one hell of a comeback. It rocks, it rages, and it burns with a certain fire only reserved for the best bands. This is easily one of the best punk records of the year.

Get Thoughts & Prayers here.

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