For all kinds of reasons, it seemed peculiar that Cajun Dance Party, London’s plucky young princes and princess of the underage scene, would release two albums this year. Not least because this is normally the kind of trick pulled by hard rock freaks like Guns N’Roses, System Of A Down or Thrice. But this is what they wanted, and whether it’s an excitable rush-release or simply the first half of a collection to be completed in autumn, Cajun’s kind-of debut presents us with just nine tracks. And of those, singles ‘The Next Untouchable’ and ‘Amylase’ surfaced in January and August respectively last year.
And yet, and yet… there’s something delightful about how it skips along, carefree, never outstaying its welcome or getting too much in the way. The singles we’re already familiar with confirm perfectly the fact that here is a band that manages to be both pretty and odd. We’re in delicate pastel-shaded territory as soon as opener ‘Colourful Life’ politely stomps in with everyday tales of, erm, pizza and Wrigley’s chewing gum that have been somehow made to sound otherwordly, while new single ‘The Race’ sees them gear up with a bouncy, blustery but ultimately forgettable slice of indie pop. Cajun are far more impressive when they drop down low and let their dreamscapes do the talking, and by far the best track is the eerie ‘No Joanna’, which dances around flecks of rainbow guitars and strings to deliver an anguished musing on formative romance. It’s almost the dark flipside to Mystery Jets’ ‘Young Love’.
Just as affecting is the woozy, pastoral ‘Buttercups’, which makes a virtue of the breathy, sometimes-strained quality of Daniel Blumberg’s vocals and conjures up none other than Merseyside’s underloved Britpop afterthoughts Ooberman. Only ‘The Hill, The View & The Lights’ wanders towards prog, but by then you don’t have the chance to get annoyed. The other side to this youthful give-a-fuck approach is that it never anchors itself properly in your consciousness. Ultimately, it’s as if Cajun Dance Party are toying with bigger ideas than their circumstances or abilities will allow them. And producer Bernard Butler has to take some blame for that. He may have whipped up a genius spell over the first two Suede albums, but that was a long time ago now. His work since, as both performer and producer, has been overbearingly pedestrian. This is the man who even managed to make the early Libertines sound too professional. It’s a trend that continues across ‘The Colourful Life’, which too often sounds too weird to be pop and too pop to be weird. Get that right and Cajun could be the band everyone got so excited about in the first place. That’s fine; they have time and space to grow. For now, this is all ‘not enough, too young’.