Once upon a time Kid Canaveral couldn’t dance. Now, according to the title of their second LP ‘Now That YouAre A Dancer’ it seems that they can. Ample proof, if any were needed, that since I first saw them four and a half years ago (third on the bill at the GRV supporting De Rosa) the band have been constantly moving onwards and upwards.
This progress, down entirely to a combination of not inconsiderable talent and ceaseless hard work, has meant that ‘Now That You Are A Dancer’ is one of the most eagerly awaited Scottish independent releases of the year.
Even before hearing the actual album I was familiar with most of the material. Whilst the first song from NTYAAD (‘The Wrench’) surfaced live as far back as 18 months ago, it was only really six months ago that the majority of the new material made it into the live set. Since then the transition has been swift and I’ve seen 80% of the record performed live, most of these songs several times.
That familiarity though isn’t just down to repetition. The tunes have stuck in the head so quickly simply because they all share one key quality – they’re great songs. And I firmly believe that most of the songs on the record could easily stand as singles in their own right.
The record is dominated by the sort of quintessentially infectious melodies that are a hallmark of David’s songwriting, whether on the likes of ‘Who’s Looking At You Anyway’ or the swooping vocals of ‘The Wrench’. It’s not just the band’s principal songwriter who can deliver these type of gems though as Kate’s ‘Without A Backing Track’ measures up just as well on the same terms.
Another defining Kid C characteristic on display is the way that tunes like ‘Breaking Up Is The New Getting Married’ fair fizz and crackle with the sort of vitality that the band have become renowned for.
All of which may lead you to the conclusion that a lot of these songs are operating in familiar territory. That’s undeniably true but the good news is that other tunes show the band taking things in new directions.
Lead single ‘Low Winter Sun’ undoubtedly sounds like Kid C. But, as an introduction to the record, its more measured take on the band’s sound was perfect – recalling the best of the first LP yet at the same time showing that the band continue to develop musically.
The other of Kate’s two songs, ‘Skeletons’, pushes further onto fresh ground. The band have dabbled with electronic sounds before (most notably on their Pictish Trail cover ‘Long In The Tooth’) but ‘Skeletons’ sounds more layered and sees the band mining a seam of electronica which is almost as much of a Fence trademark as alt-folk.
Most radical of all though is closing track ‘A Compromise’. Its live incarnation was such an eviscerating howl that it did make me wonder how a recorded version could possibly sit with the rest of the album. Yet its shoegazing quality lends a welcome air of dissonance to the record’s conclusion and it doesn’t sound out of place at all.
In conclusion, I feel that ‘NTYAAD’ is a step-up in every way from ‘Shouting at Wildlife’, great though the debut was. The supposedly difficult (ha!) second record comfortably demonstrates both more depth and greater maturity yet it still manages to retain everything that I loved about Kid Canaveral in the first place.
On the strength of this record Kid Canaveral are certs to be playing to bigger and bigger audiences over the next few months. Settle back for the ride and watch them soar!
There’s still time to pre-order the LP before its official release on Monday (4th) and get some additional goodies from the Fence website at the same time.
The band’s two Glasgow LP launches this weekend (1st March with Randolph’s Leap and 2nd with Book Group) are sold out. But there are tickets for the London LP launch at the Bull and Gate on the 9th.
After that their next Scottish date is Saturday 16th at the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live in Dundee. Support comes from Man Without Machines, Randolph’s Leap and Luna Webster. Tickets are available from Groucho’s and online. (More info)