The lads in Canterbury are giving their album away for free, and they want you to tell your friends. Due to a communications mix-up, their debut album Thank You has been available for download on their website for nearly a month. Free or not, Thank You proves to be an excellent debut from a creative and boundlessly energetic group of newcomers to the English indie-pop scene.
In a recent blog entry, Canterbury’s Ben Bishop discussed the role of music as being “worthless and priceless at the same time.” Bishop cites the Internet as being a haven for forward-thinking new groups, providing “an economy where for the first time the artist (if they so choose) can have complete control over how their band and music are promoted, discovered and accessed.” That said, Canterbury don’t seem to care whether you buy their music or not, just as long as you listen to it and pass it along to a friend. Forward-thinking indeed.
But enough jibber jabber about the business end. What about the music? Thank You plays as any good indie-pop album should, bouncing and bounding through the familiar landscape of post-university themes plaguing young people today, occasionally getting a bit too sappy and overwrought, but always catchy and believable – and not too whiny – tenor vocals sung with the sort of feeling reserved for the very young and newly disenchanted.
The primary detractor is that it certainly plays like a debut album, as though the music was written by a band with an endlessly meandering parade of influences over a course of time in which favourite bands change daily. The end product, by default, is wildly varied in its attack, jumping from hard hitting indie-garage stuff (the powerful, ironically named opener Peace & Quiet, whose melody sounds a bit too much like Genesis‘s Land Of Confusion), to a funkier version of the same (the angular, slightly dancey Diver) to a near mirror of the acoustic swing-style pop sound honed to perfection by The Kooks (Hospital).
But the lack of cohesion can be readily forgiven, considering Canterbury’s restless energy and penchant for poppy, bouncy hooks. They sound best whilst blaring, wrapped in a wall – perhaps the very wall they seem to be banging their heads against – of biting guitars and rubber-band drums. The debut single is a shining example of the kind of brawny power Canterbury are capable of, opening with driving toms and shifting into a fast and furious dance number about the sorts of people who waste their lives, as referenced in the shouting vocal, “Wake up, wake up! You’re living in a dream”.
On the whole, Canterbury’s debut album is something to get excited about. Whilst drifting in a seemingly endless sea of indie-pop that either glistens too much, vying for radio play, or comes off as cheesy and forced, Canterbury is a welcome glimpse of land to sunburnt eyes. Metaphors aside, Thank You speaks for itself. And one more time: the band is giving it away for free, so no qualms about it not being worth the wages you spent on it.