The debut album from Cazals proves to be a tale of missed potential. Too firmly stuck in the early 80s confusion of whether or not synthesisers belonged in rock’n'roll, it doesn’t quite manage to live up to its promise.
While there’s been a definite revival recently of bands that firmly believe that both electronics and guitars can go to the ball, ably headlined by everyone from The Killers to Klaxons, it’s as if Cazals haven’t quite noticed that New Order happened, let alone anything afterwards.
The result is a shame, as the advance single New Boy In Town seemed to have a lot to offer, with dirty electro beats over decent riffs, a good chorus and enough energy to carry it through the summer club and festival circuit.
Its B-side, a cover of the early Spandau Ballet number To Cut A Long Story Short – also present here – was a particular treat. The gravely vocals suited the subject matter of young rent boys waiting for the next trick much better than Tony Hadley’s crooning, giving the song an intriguing layer of seediness.
Once you’re past these two tracks, however, Cazals don’t have a lot more to offer. Somebody Somewhere recalls a slightly dirtier Killers, with a riff that’s not a million miles away from Somebody Told Me, but there’s a creeping sense of danger that it could slip into MOR soft rock at any minute. The electronics just manage to pull it back from the brink but it would be so much better if they didn’t have to.
All told, What Of Our Future ends up being just a bit too samey and the moments that nearly rescue it, such as the slow, low drums of Comfortable Silence, are thrown away with pointless tricks such as an overlong, unnecessary and ironically uncomfortable period of silence that goes on for too long.
It’s all too 1980s in a way that’s not quite original or forward looking enough to have any point to it – a little bit Roxy Music, a little bit early Spandau Ballet, a little bit Europe or Rainbow – tied to a period when synthesisers were everywhere, everyone was too scared to ignore them in case they were the only way forward but rock bands weren’t really sure what to do with them. We’ve been there, done that, found a way forward and come out the other side. Cazals are about a quarter of a century too late, ignoring everything that happened in between.
You can’t shake the feeling that their future lies in East European festivals headlined by men with poodle perms while they dream of disco balls with wistful memories of once playing alongside Erol Aklan and Daft Punk.
There’s no denying that Cazals grow on you with repeated listenings, mind you, so perhaps all is not lost yet. There’s an energy that might well come across better live than on record. For the moment, we’ll give them to benefit of the doubt: what they’re doing isn’t very original but there’s nothing very wrong with it either.