Review ·

It's unfortunate that bands often get lumped into a scene because of where they're from. The Manchester scene, the Seattle scene, the Oxnard scene (okay, maybe Madlib doesn't quite bring Oxnard up to par, but at least Ventura County's got something to its credit). The worst part is that bands don't really have to approach music similarly to be thrown together.

 

True, the Capes started releasing 45s around the time Art Brut and Bloc Party were recording their debuts. But sharing residency doesn't mean that the Capes turned out nearly as loquacious, as sassy, as danceable (in other words, as hipster-friendly). Instead, the members of the Capes decided to join the Futureheads in perfecting their background harmonies and tight guitar hooks. But whereas the Futureheads held their own because of their precision and ability to modernize '80s Britpop until it was distinctly theirs, the Capes opted to do all but become XTC.

 

Lingering throughout Hello are the musical equivalents of spinning tops and atoms, nerdy sound effects that XTC could pull off on its earliest albums merely because it was XTC. And with those perfect harmonies, Kris Barratt's simulation of Andy Partridge (or Barry Hyde - take your pick), and "Girls," a pretty decent imitation of "Science Friction," there's not much left to give the Capes a fresh identity.

 

That said, the album is straightforwardly catchy. Hello is easy to reject because it so prominently lacks originality, but it succeeds because XTC is one of the best guilty pleasures a music fan can have. As a fresh indie record, name-dropped for months by the likes of Nic Harcourt and Steve Jones, Hello suddenly makes that guilty pleasure a little more acceptable. It would be relieving to see the members of the Capes turn out a second record that hinders them from becoming the "poor man's" anything, though.

 

 

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Streaming audio

"Supergirls" MP3 clip

"Shinjuku Hi-Five" MP3 clip

The Capes Web site

Hard Soul Records Web site

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