The Shacklewell Arms
In the studio, Caged Animals (Soft Black’s Vincent Cacchione’s new baby) deal in a faintly cloying, suburban youth-channelling indie with a twist. Gently discordant guitar, anaesthetised vocals and faintly whimsical lyrics are all present and correct, but these familiar elements are underpinned by a selection of loops, samples and electronic beats that suggest rather more of an RnB habit than your average Pavement fan. Live, however – shorn of their ever-present distorto sheen, and with a real drummer replacing the synthetic – one might expect a reversion to shoe gazing type. Instead, they emerge as a rawer, more energetic proposition. A great deal of the credit for this somewhat surprising change in pace goes to Cacchione, who despite some highly questionable hand waving, makes an engaging frontman. Jewfro and natty Hawaiian shirt in place, he repeatedly jumps into the crowd brandishing confetti sticks and belting out lyrics in a manner which would make his more studiously apathetic peers cringe. There’s more than just showmanship on display though; his vocals are strong throughout, meshing perfectly with both partner Magali Charron’s almost unbearably cute backing, and the rest of the band’s indie chops. It’s hardly balls out rocking of course, but lower production values expose tracks like ‘Girls on Medication’ and ‘Teflon Heart’’s surprisingly snappy pop foundations and rawer emotional elements. It’s probably just as well – dreamy introspection often doesn’t come over well in the flesh.
By Chal Ravens
Originally published in issue 32 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. October 2011.