The ALL CAPS duo of Joe Hicklin and Callum Moloney make an absolute racket. They’re wonderfully uncategorisable as they ping-pong from shouty post-punk, to contemplative spoken word, to pseudo-Americana twang, with tin pot drums clashed half to death, saucy electronics and abrasive guitars. Even the rote subject matter (the smouldering binfire that is the United Kingdom at present) is given new impetus thanks to the snappy one-liners and thoughtful reflections that demonstrate a range not often seen from your ten-a-penny Angry Young Men.

Hicklin’s at his best when spitting furious vitriol in the manner of your Mark E. Smiths and Jason Williamsons but, although the backdrop of ‘Broken Britain’ is ever-present, his self-deprecation and self-awareness make him a natural successor to another bard of Birmingham: Mike Skinner aka The Streets. Lines that turn on a dime like “I mock joggers…because I’m insecure about my weight”, “I only wash so she’ll fuck me” and “I’m gonna be a star, Dad / long-dead and far away” belie a bleak outlook that requires a dollop of humour to avoid being excessively depressing.

As a burgeoning singer-songwriter before Hicklin joined forces with Moloney, he still (sparingly) indulges that side of his repertoire. BLACK DOG/WHITE HORSE demonstrates an aptitude with traditional song structure, while the lyrics lose their blunt  directness in favour of abstract poetry: “a black dog / atop a white horse / followed by the serpent in the train” goes the chorus. What does it mean, Jim Morrison? Who knows, but the duo’s soul-baring sincerity and deft touch with an arrangement (are those Morricone whistles in the background?) affords them the benefit of the doubt.

SHITHOUSE is the exemplary cut here – scuzzy synths, maniacal laughter and a vocal performance that moves from snarling invective to nonchalant Strokesy smoothness, it’s the BIG SPECIAL modus operandi writ large. Chuck in a line as funny and thoughtful as “I am heavy when wet… / I’m as young as I’ll ever get” along with random blurts of “shithouse!!!” and you’ve got song of the year material.

Some of the singing occasionally splits the difference between the mock-arch tone of latter-day Arctic Monkeys and a warped simulacrum of Americana warbling, creating a jarring effect on songs like iLL and  BLACK COUNTRY GOTHIC. And MONGREL has a student union slam poetry vibe that pales in comparison to the beautifully wrought other piece of spoken word, FOR THE BIRDS, which hits Kae Tempest levels of insight in its scant two minutes. But these are minor quibbles amidst fifty minutes of shockingly cohesive music given the scope of styles covered.

By the time of wonderful closer DiG the pair even find a sliver of hope, working up the motivation to do something and taking agency over your destiny rather than sliding into cycles of morbid disillusion. There’s a weathered wistfulness in these final moments, augmented by the little brass accompaniment, that recall Shane MacGowan or Nick Cave in the way that a little optimism is wrung from the overbearing darkness.

When you call yourself BIG SPECIAL and start songs with lines like “my breath was too rough for the dog to bear” you’re likely to be written off as irony-doused pranksters, but POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES shows that this duo can do it just as well with tongue-in-cheek bon mots as they can with straight-faced sincerity.