Cutaways – Earth and Earthly Things Label (Unsigned)13/05/09

May 18, 2009 by  

cutaways

Belfast’s Cutaways are aiming to re-energise a music scene whose most famous child of recent years was probably Snow Patrol. A big ask perhaps, but in ‘Earth and Earthly Things’ they have self-released an album that gives it a decent shot.

Cutaways comprise of Paul McIver, Grace McMacken and Ryan ‘Mc’ Simpson, and between them they produce synth-driven indie-pop that is very easy on the ear indeed. The two ‘Mc’s’, Paul and Grace share vocal duties ably, although McIver shares the same mildly irritating mid-atlantic twang that characterises Gary Lightbody’s aforementioned outfit.

This lively vocal interplay is the base around which Cutaways build their music, and is perhaps most effective on album intro ‘Milo of Kroton’. As an opener it is a very good indicator of what is to follow. The synth intro is not particularly subtle, but nicely contrasts the gentle and engaging song that follows.

‘I Spilled Your Drink So You Broke My Heart’ is probably the album highlight. A choral intro leads into a gorgeous twiddly guitar riff that will stay in your head for a long, long time. A Los Campesinos style chorus breaks down with a particularly blunt electronic interlude before ending on a flourish.

‘Hey Map My Way’ is a less effective moment. The percussive delivery falls a little flat, leaving you wishing they would get on with it. The inevitable synth solo is embarrassingly simple and the lyrics are on the basic side. The falsetto howl from McIver about halfway through is almost enough to make you flick to the next track.

It is difficult to talk about Cutaway’s without continuous comparison to Snow Patrol. And ‘Wrong Cause Right Words’ makes it harder still. It is more than reminiscent of ‘Set Fire To The Third Bar’, the single featuring a duet with Martha Wainwright. This feeling permeates much of the mid-album to a greater or lesser extent, between moments of individuality.

The album ends with ‘Fight To The Death’, and on a high point. Here is the truly original sound, which this band is obviously capable of, leaving you hoping for more of the same. Cutaways are the most exciting thing to come out of Belfast in recent years. It just remains to be seen whether they make it out of their more famous compatriot’s shadow.

By Liam Clune

[rating:3.5]


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