Album Review – Sugarcane: Cat’s Eyes (Frizz Records)

In the big, brash and increasingly less patient world we live in, the qualities of gentleness and understatement  are undervalued to say the least.

They shouldn’t, as the debut album from London band Sugarcane displays pretty spectacularly, be confused with weakness.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Their acoustic guitar-led sound, described as a mixture of Brazilian bossa nova and British indie, has plenty of emotional pull in both directions – happy and sad,  What’s more, the laid back arrangements leave lots of room for the words of frontman Robin French to really be heard.  And take our word for it, they really deserve to be heard.

Among the highlights are the bleakly beautiful ‘Josephine’, so intimately delivered it’s almost a whisper, a harmonium adding a mournful counterpart to the Nick Drake-esque finger picking as a thunderstorm rumbles away in the distance.  The title track, effortlessly catchy and holding off longer than you’d think before its payoff chorus, is a great one too.   ‘Foreverone’ is probably the most stripped back of all, harmonising female voices gliding gracefully over a chilled Latin groove about the monsters that lurk somewhere in all our minds.

It’s an album of many colours though, from the funny (‘Blondes Have More Fun’ with its cheeky melodic steal), to the confessional (‘Bethnal Green Blues’) and one whose currents flow strongly and unpredictably under the surface.

Dangerous waters for the unadventurous, definitely, but for those who like their experiences a little stronger and unusual, we say dive in.

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