My first listen was at my desk, settling into some work. Ten seconds of the RP accents and jarring discord of Cousin/Grandma later I switched off, twitching. No. No. Perhaps Contraption are not conducive to a productive working situation.
Listening to the second track on the bus to meet a friend for ice-cream was a far more joyful experience. I’m going to be honest, I still don’t love Cousin/Grandma, but The Ossicles (Business part III) is just delightful. Soaring harmonies mixed with random school room percussion sounds creates an odd diversity of energy and mellowness. The whole album is like this. Shouty vocals and repetition plus a retro sound feels like The Pixies meets the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Their cover of Radiohead’s National Anthem is, like the original, ever so dreamy, with a sultry fat tuba oompahing away behind rising and falling vocals. And that’s me all the way into Perhaps Contraption. This is everything a cover should be. Different enough so it’s not completely pointless, but catching something of the greatness of its source.
It’s easy to understand why they’re so popular at festivals. I know they dress up like steampunk hipsters and have a drum kit in a pram and whatever, and I bet that does make quite the spectacle, but beyond that they’re just so big and exuberant, it must be infectious. You’d have to be dead inside to not want to sing and march along with them.
When the last (and my favourite) track, Dig, stops abruptly leaving the album at 27 minutes I’m just hitting my stride and wonder what’s happened. I can’t believe they’ve actually left me wanting more. Maybe give it another listen, aye? Although I’ll skip Cousin/Grandma.
See the band play tonight here and check out the video for upcoming single, Dig, here
Words: Jen Berg