We Cut Corners - The Cadences of Others: an album of real substance and texture

Sun, Nov 6, 2016, 11:07


The Cadences of Others




Following 2011 debut, Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards, and 2014’s Think Nothing, Dublin-based duo We Cut Corners (John Duignan and Conall Ó Breacháin) have settled into a stylistic frame of mind that – unusually on a third album – sees the pair stretch even further while still anchored to what made us sit up and take notice in the first place.

From the very beginning, however, there’s a noticeable advance in song structure: first track, Middle Kids, undulates in rhythm and dynamism, swaying aggressively from side to side.

Narratively, too (always a strong point with WCC, and not just because of the oft-noted fact that they both happen to be teachers), there’s a marked difference. They’re still canny lyricists that avoid clichés (on Reluctant Recluse they sing “Back in my youth I was the quintessential non-believer, now I’m a reluctant recluse . . . I was a reckless child, now I’m a childless wreck . . . ”), but overall there’s a level of hard-worn and earned experience here that flips smart to wise.

Aside from growing pains and nimble wordplay, it’s the songs that make the most difference here. Of the 10 tracks on this concise album, there isn’t one dullard. The colourful Afro-Caribbean flavours of On Avoiding People belie its serious drift, while semi-ballad Of Whatever manages to address communication breakdown in the most poignant, if realistic, way imaginable.

Milk Teeth (“as for nostalgia, well, I forget how that felt…”) is punchy pop spiked with a spoken-word coda; Blood Vessels is languid paranoia underpinned with svelte orchestration; Sound is an every-which-way exercise in elegance (“You’re left somewhere between bereft and blessed . . . but it’s the sound that drives the nail the deepest . . . ”); Traffic Island, meanwhile, is the clincher: uneasy memoir viewed from the distance of experience and maturity.

It all adds up to an album of real substance and texture from a band that – name notwithstanding – isn’t into taking the easy way out.