I Was a Cub Scout - Pink Squares (Abeano)

01 Dec 2006

school kids who sound like the postal service - there is hope; release - '06
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I Was A Cub Scout - Pink SquaresI must admit, I'm surprised it took this long for an English band that owes such an obvious debt to The Postal Service to break through. TPS's debut - and so far only - album has been such a widespread hit amongst suburban teens that one would have expected its influence to be much more evident than it has been so far.

Nottingham duo I Was A Cub Scout share the starry-eyed romanticism and glacial electronics of their Gibbard and Tamborello's project, and their latest single consists of two songs that are very well put together, if a little lightweight. Todd Marriot valiantly tries to steer clear of aping the vocal idiosyncrasies of his musical heroes such as Oberst or Gibbard, but unfortunately ends up mangling his words into some rather odd vowel sounds - 'apologise' is contorted into 'apologoise', and 'same' becomes 'sime,' to name but two cringe-makingly overt examples.

But let's not dwell on the negatives - these guys are still at school for heaven's sake, so there's plenty of time for them to find their own identity. Amongst all the clever synthetic textures, I Was A Cub Scout's best feature is - somewhat perversely - William Bowerman's propulsive drumming. Whilst he tends to stick to energetic, hi-hat heavy, Bloc Party-friendly beats, there at points when he gleefully cuts loose with an accessible complexity reminiscent of Roy Ewing's work with Braid. Chief songwriter Marriot also shows real flair for layering electronics to create touching, though never ground-breaking, musical backdrops for his tales of teenage heartache, which will surely strike a chord with huge numbers of emotional adolescents, whilst simultaneously getting their battered Converses on the dancefloor. They haven't quite found their niche yet, but I'm willing to give these two a few more attempts - you'd probably be wise to do the same.

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