Caged Animals Eat Their Own - but it tastes alright
- Sep 30, 2011
Musical scenes are tricky things – on one level it seems faintly ridiculous to suggest bands from the same area should sound similar, but there's clearly a historic (and journalistic) precedent for it.
Either way, it seems like there might be something in the water in Noo Joisey (New Jersey) at the moment, 'chillwave' or otherwise. A few months back we had Memory Tapes besmirch our ears with the hugely underwhelming 'Player Piano', and now the slightly more adventurous Caged Animals have arrived, peddling a markedly similar style on 'Eat Their Own'.
Thankfully the four piece's debut has enough pop gumption to steer clear of the rocks of mediocrity for the most part; while Caged Animals have a recognisable sound, 'Eat Their Own' pulls in several different directions, making it listenable if not remarkable.
The whimsical 'Teflon Heart' is undoubtedly the jewel in the record's crown, a warm patchwork of wonky guitars, samples and fuzzy handclaps pinned together with some endearingly silly lyrics (sample: 'You took me to the cinema/ Bought me a tarantula'). It's also stuffed with melody, and succinctly captures the romantic delirium of being head over heels in love.
Further along , 'Piles Of $$$' sounds like T-Pain making sweet love to Glasvegas, which I'm sure we can all agree is something no one would ever want to listen to. This is Caged Animals' attempt at a hip-hop-style slow jam, and it's both cheesy, a bit rubbish and unintentionally funny, though you have to give them credit for trying. 'Instant <3breaker' has another stab at it later with slightly better results, but it's not their strong suit.
The slightly leftfield bent of the band pays off elsewhere, as on the touchingly sincere, doo-wop inflected 'The NJ Turnpike' and gossamer-light intro 'Teenagers In Heat'. To cap it off, the hidden track at the album's close also takes the thrust of 'Teflon Heart' and offers a deliciously cynical final blast.
Sadly, there are a fair few tracks that fail to muster a heartbeat to accompany the more savvy moments – 'Feelingz' is dull as dishwater save for the burst of funk guitar near the end, while 'Lips That Turn The Light To Fire' finds singer Vincent Cacchione stuck in an echo chamber and features a refrain that sounds a bit like a car alarm.
All told, there are a few things to like on 'Eat Their Own', and while it's by no means a knockout Caged Animals throw enough variety and adrenaline into the mix at key moments to make fans of quirky, innovative electro-pop take note.