The Cadences of Others is the third album from We Cut Corners, John Duignan and Conall Breachain, on which the band have made a conscious effort to really push themselves creatively. This record expands way beyond the confines of the band’s initial combination of guitar and drums, incorporating sweeping orchestral arrangements with some songs built around more prominent basslines (provided by Villagers main man Conor O’Brien). It’s a pretty bold move when you consider the quality of their last two records, they had a pretty good handle on the two-piece dynamic after all.
There’s still a couple of short, sharp, quality pop songs on The Cadences of Others, like the infectiously catchy ‘On Avoiding People’ and ‘Reluctant Recluse’, but on tracks like ‘Oh’ the band are happy to let the song dictate the arrangement. Each verse builds upon the next starting out with just vocals and a purposefully strummed acoustic guitar, the gable end explodes in galloping drums and guitar drenched in dramatic strings arranged by Breachain.
The organ driven ‘Sound’ is another case of the comfort zone abandoned, initially hung on just the organ and bass like a minimal 60s soul song for the millennial earhole. It’s testament to the band’s musical dexterity that even as they let loose on their primary instruments creating chaotic cacophonies, a sense of calculated control remains, intent on serving the songs as much as possible.
We Cut Corners not only push themselves sonically in terms of their arrangements but also lyrically. Known for their clever use of word play and phrasing, on ‘Traffic Island’ the band have produced perhaps their most autobiographical song to date. A beautifully tragic, darkly comic tale of an alcohol induced teenage obsession full of imagery, easily recognisable to anyone whose enduring memories of adolescence are of longing for love. Fans of songwriting giants like Ryan Adams, Elvis Costello and Conor Oberst are in for a treat.
The album title is fitting too, the importance of unique cadence, delivery and phrasing is apparent all throughout this record. Closer ‘The End Has Already Happened’ with its unusual, stomping time signature and vocal progression at times feels like a drunk on a bouncy castle. A complex balancing act of dichotomised beats and cadences. Always shifting, always engaging.
Having already established their reputation as one of the land’s more prominent purveyors of pitch-perfect alt-pop/rock it would have been easy for We Cut Corners to stick to the same formula. The fact that they’ve decided to push themselves on this record shows a developing maturity, a real sense of adventure. Their refusal to allow even the tiniest drop of stagnant water invade their creative stream allows them to explore a vast ocean of possibilities. A band intent on growing, delivering excellent material as they do.