Album Reviews

I Was A Cub Scout – I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope

(Rough Trade) UK release date: 18 February 2008

The hype surrounding East Midlands duo I Was A Cub Scout seems to have abated recently. It’s been a year a and a half now since their debut single We Were Made To Love first made them the name on every critic and industry mogul’s lips, but they’ve never quite managed to get the chart positions to match. And now the whispers have stopped.

So now, listening to their debut album I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope, it’s nice to know they’re still optimistic. They’ve taken their time on this album to make it great, and the result is pretty awesome. But with all the hype a distant memory, there’s a distinct danger that no one will actually bother to listen.

It doesn’t even need long. Five seconds in to album opener Save Your Wishes – when the drums kick in for the first time – surely anyone would be hooked.

Ignore all the nonsense about I Was A Cub Scout being an emo band with synths. They definitely don’t bear a resemblance to new ’emo’ (My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, etc) but they don’t have much in common with the Jimmy Eat World, Rival Schools era of emo either. There are glimmers of the latter emo influence, but no more so than in Get Cape Wear Cape Fly – who seems like a much more sensible reference point.

Perhaps it’s because of all the synths, the lack of bass and Todd Marriott’s almost Mew-like vocals, but I Was A Cub Scout just sound like the lightest and fluffiest of light and fluffy things. It’s luscious pop with gorgeous melodies and cutesy hooks, and loads of the songs are about love. If music represented colours, they’d be pastel pink – a touch paler than the slightly sinister Nightmare Of You, with a more peachy Mumm-Ra sitting not far away. And absolutely nowhere near to the brash and bold purples and greens that calling themselves ’emo’ seems to imply.

There are so many lovely choruses and, if it’s lines like “I’ll be right beside you dear” (Run) and “If I lie here, will you lie with me” (Chasing Cars) that turned Snow Patrol from an obscure indie band to a feature of every self-respecting music collection in the country, then we wouldn’t be surprised if “We were made to love but we’re not the best at it” (We Were Made To Love), “I would cut every corner to find you” (Our Smallest Adventures) and “I’d like to see you at my side, your highest high, because I’m close to you” (Ps & Qs) were to do it for I Was A Cub Scout. Of course, there’s also a chance they’ll just make indie fashionistas vomit on their pointy shoes.

On some songs, they take a bit longer to get to the point than is really necessary. And while on the one hand, this gives them a chance to show off an almost prog-like approach to music that makes it all feel a little bit epic, the flip side is that when it’s on your iPod shuffle and some kind of minimalist, floaty synth part is all you can hear, you’ll have got bored and skipped on before it gets to the good bit.

But it’s not enough to stop I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope from already looking like one of 2008’s best albums.

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I Was A Cub Scout – I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope