Words by Tom Johnson
Whether or not artists strive for it is besides the point, but there will occasionally come a moment in a career when it suddenly feels like their arrival has been marked – a calling card, if you will. There’s no way of objectifying quite how or why this happens – and there’s certainly no set pattern – all the more often it is just as much down to circumstance as it is ability. Five-minutes or so into A Compromise, the closing track on Kid Canaveral’s new LP, the Scottish quartet hit those heights. After forty-ish minutes of often-magical pop music, the thumping dance-beat percussion is powering through a wall of squalled guitar noise and a big grin erupts. This is majestic, hedonistic and utterly wonderful.
It’s been something of a long journey for the band. After forming at St. Andrews University, they relocated to Edinburgh, lost and gained a couple of drummers, and setup their own label to release their first singles and debut album Shouting At Wildlife. Their signing to the devilishly-good Fence Records in 2011 seemed like a perfect match; but surely there is a big difference between self releasing records as-and-when, and putting out an album on one of Scotland’s most loved and respected labels…?
Pfft, is there heck. Now That You Are A Dancer opens with The Wrench; a short-sharp blast of bustling indie-pop that streamlines every glorious Scottish guitar band you can think of into two-and-a-half minutes of limb-shaking guitar lines and heart-aching melodies. It has that perfect juxtaposition of weighty lyrics set against a flourishing positive backdrop – and it’s a trick they repeat to great success on numerous occasions throughout the record. The first half in particular uses this template, most notably on tracks such Breaking Up Is The New Getting Married and the marvelous Who Would Want To Be Loved, which contains the irresistible couplet, “You start to feel that you’re destined to drown in your kitchen sink, and nobody waits forever because everyone dies eventually.”
Lyrically the album is very much of-the-now. Lyrics about one-too-many drinks, hands on strangers hips and “ex-best friends they fucked in school” all crop up at varying points; and while such linear personal intricacies can sometimes constrict an album, here they’re always expertly used and delivered. Skeletons, for example, is a deeply personal fuck-you to a misbehaving partner, however, the drawn-out vocal and the low-lying synth that is built upon throughout draws the listener in, and by the end of the track you’re completely prepared to admonish said perpetrator yourself.
Occasionally the subject matter is opened up, and to great reward. The records centre-piece is Low Winter Sun; a warm blast of golden-tinged melancholic pop. It’s the kind of piercingly reflective track that makes you yearn, not just for warmer days but for, well, everything. All at once. If Low Winter Sun is a sign of the band maturing thematically then the aforementioned A Compromise is the musical equivalent. Things finally start to unravel around the seven-minute mark and you’re left with the dying embers of a record that promised much and delivers so much more in so many various ways. It’s a shining, glowing example of the pure power that pop music can possess.
Kid Canaveral have arrived folks; welcome them with open arms.