When Coldplay sang about para-para-paradise, they could have been having a premonition about Cub Scouts latest EP. Paradise is available online and in stores on Friday August 2, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on the tracks and check them out.
Paradise certainly lives up its name, flaunting that summer pop feeling throughout. The great thing about this EP is that so much hits you straight away. There are samples and synths everywhere, and spacious vocal melodies that swirl in your head and massage your synapses. That might sound overly flowery, but it really is the best way to describe how these tracks have been mixed.
Producer John Castle has managed to keep each element of each song in its rightful place – he’s distilled each sound so that those gorgeous vocals float on top. There’s very much a flavour of Empire of the Sun and MGMT throughout. but with more emphasis on refined treble. The EP also tends to stick to its summer island theme with titles like ‘Sherbet’ and ‘Pool!’
The title track ‘Paradise’ launches itself immediately into indie dance pop, with a sound quite like contemporaries Strange Talk. The song has been out for a few weeks, and it doen’t take long to be pleasantly acquainted with that heavy synth sound. The rhythm is insanely groovy and the melodic hooks fit snugly with gentle harmonies; it’s a pop song through and through but a damn good one!
‘Sherbet’ seems an appropriate name for the second track with its airy pop feel. The hypnotic vocals almost make you overlook the potential seriousness of the lyrics – that someone has a clinical addition to sherbet. This should probably precipitate some sort of intervention before other powdery substances become involved. More likely though, it’s a nice little homage to the 70s band of the same name, lead by Darryl Braithwaite. Whether deliberate or not, it reminds me of the poppy ‘Summer Love’ by Sherbet, which makes you feel the same way as Cub Scouts does.
‘Sherbet’ is a catchy little tune, although similar in feel to ‘Paradise’. But pleasantly, the songs on the EP are not all alike. ‘Shuffle’ immediate brings you down with deep, unsettling piano chords. The whole song takes the same driving beat from previous tracks and uses it to create gravity instead of groove. Ambient sounds become melancholy, not uplifting. It’s a clever change of mood which gets repeated to an extent with ‘Write You a Letter’. That piano chimes in again, but this time hope replaces melancholy. The instruments are scaled back, and the song is stripped bare, leaving the listener to enjoy some pretty awesome singing.
My only gripe with Paradise is the length of the tracks. Sixty percent of the songs don’t make it past three minutes, and ‘Write You a Letter’ scrapes in on exactly three. Are they supposed to be throwaway pop songs for radio? They shouldn’t be, because Cub Scouts clearly have the chops and talent that breeds longevity – write me a four minute plus song for your next EP!
Aside from that, Paradise is a wonderful assortment which clearly builds on from their previous work. There are little musical delights to pick out, such as the guitar playing off against the keys in ‘Pool!’ This genre isn’t for everyone, but if you like great quality indie pop then this should be in your collection!
Cub Scouts have taken their music around their world and will be joining the lineup for BIGSOUND in September. But if you’re poor like me, they are headlining 4 Walls Festival on Saturday, right here in Brisbane. You can also keep up with Cub Scouts on Facebook and Twitter.
Saturday 3 Aug: 4 Walls Festival, Brisbane
Wednesday 11 Sept: Bigsound 2013, Brisbane
Thursday 12 Sept: Spotted Cow, Toowoomba*
Friday 13 Sept: The Hi-Fi, Brisbane*
Saturday 14 Sept: Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast*
Wednesday 18 Sept: ANU, Canberra*
Thursday 19 Sept: Uni Bar, Wollongong*
Friday 20 Sept: Cambridge, Newcastle*
Saturday 21 Sept: The Metro, Sydney [ALL AGES]*
Wednesday 25 Sept: Loft, Warrnambool*
Thursday 26 Sept: Barwon Club, Geelong*
Friday 27 Sept: Forum, Melbourne*
Saturday 28 Sept: Karova, Ballarat*
Thursday 3 Oct: Adelaide Uni Bar, Adelaide [ALL AGES]*
Friday 4 Oct: Settlers Tavern, Margaret River*
Saturday 5 Oct: The Astor, Perth [ALL AGES]*
Sunday 6 Oct: Prince Of Wales, Bunbury*
*JINJA SAFARI, THE BAY OF FIRES TOUR