The Merseyside indie-pop quintet produces moments of minor beauty on album two.
Noel Gardner 2010
Casual fans of this Merseyside indie-pop quintet may be impressed that The Seal Cub Clubbing Club’s second album arrives so quickly after their debut full-length: Super Science Fiction officially emerged in May 2009. Whereupon the band’s more dedicated supports will likely correct them by pointing out that Super Science Fiction was suspended in limbo for two years due to its initial label, Nomadic, going kaput. There’s even a song about this mishap on Royal Variety: Lapwing, a frenetic indie-ustrial stomp suggestive of Super Furry Animals’ late 90s salad days.
The group’s subject matter rarely resorts to the standard-issue pop song themes, in fact, which helps to set them apart a tad in a world not exactly gasping for more beardy sorts toting fuzzy guitars and yelping vocals. As much as the 13 tracks on Royal Variety find TSCCC trying a credible spread of styles – a variety, you might say – on for size, for better or worse they remain rooted in the small-time indie world. The prospect of them breaking out of this demographic, a la the Super Furries and the Flaming Lips to name two, appears fairly slim.
None of which is to say that TSCCC are incapable of moments of minor beauty. The Borough, a marriage of twinkling analogue keys and thoughtful spirals of melody, owes something to Grandaddy circa Under the Western Freeway. An ability to tackle folkish delicacy propels Old World, the album opener, and Heaven Can Wait – one of a few moments on Royal Variety which suggests that, save for the vagaries of fashion, there’s essentially little separating these guys from currently-lauded bands like The xx and Wild Beasts.
You get the impression, though, that The Seal Cub Clubbing Club will particularly relish the prospect of battering a few sensitive indie ears with the fizzy, pacey thumpers which take up most of the album’s second half. As well as the aforementioned Lapwing, Peewit and Another Planet employ electronics with a neater touch than might have been expected from a, not noticeably futuristic, indie combo. It won’t make dedicated clubbers flock to their cause, true, but it remains a good advert for the independent ethos.