By: Ginny Yang
While their contemporaries mimicked the dark sounds of Joy Division and sculpted their Morrissey-style pompadours, the Capes were busy adding polish to their own shining brand of power-pop. The quintet came together at London’s Goldsmiths College, which previously handed out diplomas to members of Blur, Pulp, and Placebo. Before long, frontman Kris Barratt, dual keyboardist-guitarists Richard Gladman and Nick Cresswell, bassist Rupert Cresswell, and drummer Rupert Phelps caught the attention of an American label, Hard Soul, that issued their Taste EP in 2005. The U.K. ensemble began promoting the 7-track release with a series of gigs, including supporting slots for ex-Guns N’ Roses member Dizzy Reed and a Midwest burlesque show.
The band’s full-length debut, Hello, is a collection of sunny tunes backed by zippy keyboards and jagged guitar riffs. The influences on the disc range from the Buzzcocks (“Tightly Wound”) to the Beach Boys (“Comet Tails”), while the lyrics remain unrelentingly chipper. “Left my town, now I’m sitting on my suitcase / I want adventure and I’m gonna get my first taste,” Barratt sings in “First Base.” The record overflows with bright pop melodies delivered in a distinct British inflection: “Carly” contains a love-struck chorus punctuated by plenty of ooh la la las, while “What You Want” sounds like a long-lost Oasis B-side. However, the collective strays from this formula with the experimental “Francophile (Ver 1.5),” a track enveloped by heavy synths and distorted vocals. But with handclaps and West Coast harmonies abound, Hello truly deserves a warm welcome.
Capes tour dates:
3/3, Eugene, OR (John Henry’s) 3/4, Seattle, WA (El Corazon) 3/5, Portland, OR (Towne Lounge) 3/10, Denver, CO (Hi Dive) 3/15-18, Austin, TX (SXSW)