Cajun Dance Party, the latest in a rash of teenager bands, return a year after their first single release with their debut, The Colourful Life. Far from the reckless, noisy energy of young bands like Arctic Monkeys or Be Your Own PET, Cajun Dance Party’s first full length appears initially to hold a level of maturity and restraint unique to its young band members.
Opening track Colourful Life comes to life slowly with jangly guitars, shimmering pianos, and a poppy beat, occasionally visited by sweeping strings. After two minutes, it starts in with a harder riff accompanied by some schoolboy yelling that sounds like it was pulled from an old Morrissey song. This musical departure soon rekindles itself with the main elements of the song to finish up a nice, yet rather scattered opening.
All throughout the first song, you might hear bits from singer Danny Blumberg like “the weight is thick yet thin” and “nothingness is nice,” and you have to give it to the young lad for trying to transgress standard rock lyrics. But Blumberg’s lyrics recall those of Franz Ferdinand‘s Alex Kapranos more than those of Alex Turner – the ideas are a bit vague and reach for a deeper meaning, but don’t inspire much thought.
Such lyrical downfalls come to the fore in the group’s breakthrough single The Next Untouchable. Sitting nicely at the midpoint of the album, the song blossoms with a wonderful riff and an undeniably catchy arrangement, but Blumberg’s “one and one and one makes three” and “I can’t walk away, all I can do is say ‘better luck next time'” distract from the rollicking sounds behind him.
Although some interesting elements do come out in the mix at times, and although Cajun Dance Party took some time to craft their debut, not much from The Colourful Life sticks in your mind. Even after repeated listens, it sounds like a small group of solid songs surrounded by filler. Buttercups doesn’t top No Joanna as a ballad, and The Race doesn’t compare to The Next Untouchable as a rock song. Neither does The Firework inspire much as a pop jam after hearing Colourful Life.
In essence, Cajun Dance Party could have released a rather strong EP, but their attempt to expand on the power of their singles has left them with an uneven album. Other teenage groups like Be Your Own PET were perhaps on the mark when they came out of the gates full speed and left the ballads and maturity for later.
But the young five-piece still have a lot of time ahead of them. Even with an unfocused album like The Colourful Life as a debut, Cajun Dance Party are doing much, much better than some of their young contemporaries (Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers Band, for staters) in terms of crafting genuine, soulful art. They just need a bit more practice to get up to speed.