It’s fair to say that Cancel The Astronauts haven’t rushed into releasing their debut LP ‘Animal Love Match’, finally out on 17th September.
In fact, it’s taken them 5 years to get to this point – but it’s not like they’ve not done anything in that time. On the contrary, the 16 songs on their two 5 track EPS and two 3 track singles ‘Seven Vices’ and ‘Intervention’ to date could have produced a more than decent LP from within their ranks.
Except, when crafting that first long player, they’ve all but ignored that back catalogue and only the two lead tracks from the singles have made the cut. So if you’re looking for some of their best known material on the new record, say the likes of ‘Funny for a Girl’, ‘Let’s Go Expo’ or ‘Fanclub’, you might think that you’ll be disappointed that they’re not here. But listen to the record and I promise you that you won’t be.
Instead they’ve pulled off the trick of making an all (but) new Cancel The Astronauts LP which is made all the more remarkable given that half of this LP hasn’t featured much, if at all, in the live set. And the fact that it’s such a strong LP is testament to not just the quality of their song writing but also the depth.
Broadly speaking side one of the record features the more familiar material, the 2 singles, free download track ‘Making Dynamite’ along with ‘Love Backwards’ and the title track which have been fixtures in the live set for some time.
In contrast the second side is mainly new stuff with only the admittedly brilliant ‘While I Was Sleeping’ and ‘Promises of Strangers’ in any way familiar.
The music reflects the mixed tastes within the band which range from indie to chart pop. As a consequence there’s not only a scope to the songs that many of their contemporaries don’t attempt but also some unusual influences, the keyboards sometimes recalling mid 80s stadium rock. Not a genre I could ever confess to liking.
Yet it works. Matt often quotes Pulp as a reference point and it’s as good as any in that it highlights the disparity between the largely upbeat happy tunes and the more introspective, darker lyrics.
Rather than document the live performances, the band have taken the smart route of making a slightly different sounding record and mixing things up whether it be on the auto-tune so prominent on ‘Intervention’ or the Moroder-era Blondie intro to ‘While I Was Sleeping’.
What impresses most though is that the songs they haven’t played live are in no way filler. Indeed LP closing track ‘I Sold My Soul (And This Is All I Got)’, strongly reminiscent of Arcade Fire at their most rock’n’roll, is one of the best things here.
I’ve only got one minor grumble really with the record and that’s the production. Personally I’d have preferred a more punchy approach rather than the slightly glossy sound they’ve gone for. But, like the auto-tune, it may be something that helps them attract a wider audience.
All things considered, ‘Animal Love Match’ is a terrific pop album which illustrates just how many great songs these guys have to burn. And perhaps it also makes the important point that rushing into releasing an album is not necessarily the best way for a band to go forward.
Stream the LP below:
‘Animal Love Match is released on 17th September and you can pre-order it from the CTA Bandcamp. Hopefully on or before the 17th it might appear in local record shops, at least in Scotland.
Look out for an interview/podcast with Cancel The Astronauts in the next few days.
The LP launch is at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on Saturday 15th September. (Tickets)