The cleverest lyrics you’ll find this year, wrapped up in killer tunes that will burrow their way into your head and curl up in a quiet corner where you’ll be happy to leave them forever. And all this from a debut album by a boy from Southend.
Just imagine for a moment, if you will, that Bright Eyes was British, spent most of his time writing existential poetry about pop deconstructivism and the rest of it composing the best folktronica tunes this side of … well, just about anyone really. You still won’t even be close to guessing what an absolute gem of a debut album this is.
Let’s start at the beginning. Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly is a fabulous name. Before you even listen to the music, just take a few seconds to savour it. It’s phenomenally knowing, brimming over with childish innocence and enthusiasm while simultaneously being wistful and romantic, speaking of fragile youth and doomed dreams. Get Cape – easy. Wear Cape – easy. Fly … hello life kicking you in the gut and laughing at you while you’re down. But, as long as you’ve still got some hope in your heart and imagination in your head you can dream of the stars. You can still claw back small victories that will taste oh so sweet.
Get Cape understands this far, far, better than a man as young as Sam Duckworth should. Aided and abetted by cornet player Mike Glenister, he is creating the most beautiful music, filled with gentle strings and brass bands and he is doing it on a laptop. Knowing that the only instrument that’s actually on stage with him at any time is Glenister’s trumpet, while the rest is all electronic, somehow adds to the ethereal quality of it all, giving it a fragility that is at the same time frighteningly robust and confident. This is a truly astonishing debut.
Opening track Once More With Feeling is the sound of heading into a bar and being told the meaning of life by someone half your age but with 10 times your worldliness, who sits you down, puts their arm around you and tells you the story of their life in soaring choruses framed by beautiful verses full of urban folktales and somehow manages to explain to you that everything is okay really. Take as an example (of which there are oh so many), Call Me Ishmael: You are not your job/You are not the clothes you wear/You are the words that leave your mouth/So speak up/Speak up.
Never has deconstructivism sounded so compelling and seductive. Lines such as Chronicles (Part Two…)’s “You don’t need a degree/To deconstruct this melody,” Part One’s “I was stuck in minor chords/I’d been here once before” or I-Spy’s “You know this song’s a simple tune/Even though it’s not what I’m supposed to do” have never sounded so romantic.
It’s sheer genius on every possible level. Catchy, meaningful and melodic. Where on Earth is he going to go from here?