On a bed of folk-rock the debut record from Kildare-based musician Padraig McCauley delves into the most successful end of alt-pop of the last two decades. Bouncing off jangle-guitar, country rock, ska and indie-garage with guileless transparency McCauley nails them individually with smart lyrical content and a mesh of clever pop hooks.
The album opener is a retro-minded tune with images of hanging with your mates evoking memories of lazy care-free school holidays – it’s breezy L.A. beat-pop minus the faux SoCal accent. The lo-fi styling of ‘Almost In Greece’ has a merited place on any indie-disco dance floor with its electronic flourishes and garage rock rhythm. The howls on ‘Lingo’ scream alternative-radio-airtime; a big sounding folk-rock number addressing small town woes, “Freedom or boredom, what’s the difference”. There’s buoyant and quirky ska-pop on ‘Trouble in Paradise’; ska-light rhythms and big band horns accompanied by doo-wops and woos with a stand-out buzzing guitar line cutting through the song. The narcissism of the early ’90s sounding ‘I’m Fucking Amazing’ is nothing short of infectious, a celebratory self-praising pop-rock sing-along. ‘Daisy’ is acoustic country rock with a jilted folk voice, and it could be said that ‘My Side’ is stab at a stadium-rock anthem – its bouncing melody would certainly get a rained-upon festival crowd jumping in unison.
Throughout there’s plucked guitar lines, lo-fi rhythms, sax, violin, banjo and catchy choruses – each track as radio-friendly as the next. There’s all of this and Padraig manages to package it cohesively and succinctly into 34 minute album.
The diversity gives the record deserved mass appeal but it’s really only the last song that truly marries more than one of these styles. ‘Beggars and Cannibals’, uses slow-building guitar, afro-pop nuances and layered vocal harmonies to create something distinctive to The P Affection, and it’s not even the best song on the album.
Amazing? Not yet. But you’re pretty fucking good.