Cancel The Astronauts are an interesting bunch. When I interviewed them for last autumn’s podcast there were clear indications that their music is the product of a mix of different tastes. The tunes they picked that night make that point better than I could – on the “pop” side Coldplay and Charlie Simpson and on the “indie credible” side, Trail of the Dead, Polarsets and My Dad vs Your’s.
Even listening to the records though I’ve always had the notion that they want to be more than just another indie band. The 80s style synths have always set them slightly apart from their contemporaries and there have been hints on previous records of a soaring musical ambition (especially ‘Standing Still’ on the ‘Funny for a Girl’ EP).
New single ‘Intervention’ however takes things to another level – and it may be a move that provokes a divided response.
First off. ‘Intervention’ is a great song – probably not only their most accessible tune but also their most danceable. Despite being one of their oldest songs it’s still a mainstay of their live set and I’m delighted that they’ve decided to use it now. It’s always seemed to me their obvious single.
The single version though features their most commercial act so far. Whilst the basic track is essentially a studio recording of the live version, they’ve not settled for that. Instead they’ve added a sampled Auto-tune vocal loop to the song structure. This gives the tune quite a different feel to their other stuff.
Undeniably the insistent hook adds another dimension to the song which could be the key to reaching a wider audience. Or will it perhaps put off the undecided indie snobs?
With an undoubted background in indie snobbery, I feel qualified to comment. Would I prefer the single without the auto-tune? Yes, yes, I would. I’m just not a fan of that type of sound (although arguably it suits CTA better than it did Bob Mould). I also feel that it clutters the intro to the song unnecessarily.
Yet …. despite these reservations, I’m still finding myself drawn back to it again and again – surely a sign of a great pop song.
Ach, listen to it yourself and make up your own mind.
As ever on a CTA release, the B-sides are quality songs.
‘Echoes of Love’ featured in the live set at the marathon Woodside gig last summer and is a bit harder edged than some of their other stuff driven as it is by Kieran’s guitar. I really think it’s great and would be worth the price of admission alone.
‘The Hardest Thing’ meanwhile is different again a reflective, largely acoustic ballad which doesn’t have a lot of peers in their ever expanding recorded CTA repertoire. (Now 16 studio songs – and the first LP’s not even out!)
I suspect that the disco-fied ‘Intervention’ will be a bit controversial which would be a shame since that debate will likely overshadow not just the song but what is overall another fine release from the band.
The single is available for pre-order with an immediate download of the 3 songs at the CTA Bandcamp.
Cancel the Astronauts play their first gig of the year on Saturday (24th March) at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh with support from the wonderful Bad Books and Fuzzystar.