Floppy-fringed, and in the midst of sitting their GCSEs, Cajun Dance Party originally started out as an after-school rabble; writing skippingly charming songs about digestive enzymes, pizza, and Wrigley’s gum. A split-second later, they were sixth formers, and the band had been signed by XL for a reportedly astronomical sum. Recording their debut album with Suede’s former guitarist Bernard Butler manning the production desk, and with the run of Edwyn Collins’ taxidermy filled studio and guitar collection, Cajun Dance Party were kids set loose in a musical candy shop, with the keys to every dispenser, and the code to the till.
“I think I saw recording the album as a fun after-school club, essentially,” laughs Max Bloom, speaking to DIY eight years on from ‘The Colourful Life’. These days, of course, he’s best known for fronting Yuck. “I was not aware of the fact this was actually a big deal,” Max admits. “We were getting to record an album! It took me two days to record my bass parts, but I would just hang out [at West Heath Yard, where they worked with producer Bernard Butler] anyway, and smoke weed on the roof. I’d always been in school bands, but then suddenly this school band started getting taken seriously.”
Though Cajun Dance Party were young, flippant, and - in Max Bloom’s own words - a “little bit silly”, the exciting, unbounded, and sometimes all-over-the-shop energy of five musicians’ first steps power ‘The Colourful Life’. The band’s Robbie Stern, an accomplished classical violinist (and “easily the most talented person in that band,” according to Bloom) weaves theatrical string-hums through the awkward, foot-scuffing ‘No Joanna’. “Look down at my shoes to see how I move / And it’s always wrong, it’s always wrong,” despairs Daniel Blumberg, clumsily overthinking a crush, and spilling out lyrics straight from an angsty, scrawled-on diary.
“Before we broke up, there was some really interesting music being made. I would love for people to hear it.”
From the waltzing, over-the-top melodrama of ‘Buttercups,’ to keyboardist Vicky Freund’s beautifully restrained and wide-eyed lulls, as “romance fills my eyes” on closer ‘The Hill, the View and the Lights,’ ‘The Colourful Life’ is always peppy, often earnest to the point of overdoing it, and funny in the most unexpected moments. It’s hugely inaccurate to say that ‘The Colourful Life’ is mature beyond Cajun Dance Party’s years. Really, it’s an album for every teenager with questionably crimped hair, or ill-fitting, starched new jackets that never quite sit right. It’s a record for every kid who read one Sylvia Plath poem and declared themselves writers, each and every person who wrote an charming, but ultimately fumbling, love letter to a maths lesson crush, with no reply. A teeny bit precocious, but bursting with optimism, boundlessness, and spring-powered excitement, ‘The Colourful Life’ is a youthful attitude harnessed in nine joyful songs.
“The band wasn’t given much time to develop in any way, but I don’t regret that time,” concludes Max Bloom now, looking back. Post-Cajun Dance Party, majority of the band have gone on to other musical things. Daniel Blumberg now fronts Hebronix, Vicky Freund leads cosmic-disco bunch Too Much Love, and Robbie Stern has a new project, Post Louis.
“After [‘The Colourful Life’] was released and before we broke up, there was some really interesting music being made,” says Max. “I would love for people to hear it. It was very different, and actually really good, I really liked it.”
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Photo: Jacob Perlmutter