‘You Can Tell’ recounts the aftermath of an evening’s drinking with the use of clicking, percussion sounds and mournful strings cleverly recreating that hazy state of hangover. Better still is ‘White Othello’ which sounds like an adult nursery rhyme gatecrashed by string mavericks the Levellers before turning into a garage rock stomp with echoed vocals drifting in and out of the mix.
Quirky lyrical themes abound here even when you least expect it. ‘Apple Tree’ is a beautiful Mumford and Sons-like love story, all gently strummed guitars before the all-important discovery that the object of the protagonist’s affection is in fact a plasticine model. ‘Archaopteryx’ must surely be one of the strangest reference points for a song possible in its theme of palaeontology (‘underneath those pretty feathers, you’ve got something to hide’). It sees band members singing different lyrics over the top of each other and a striking a cappella intro. Elsewhere their Celtic roots are clearly apparent with the Welsh language ‘Esgyrn’ and ‘Shotgun Billy’, the latter a potential future soundtrack for a Tarantino-directed spaghetti western.
To these ears the only place where things start to unravel is the Heddwyn-sung ‘Don’t Carry’ where the sleepy string sounds coax the listener into an unwanted state of paralysis. ‘Birthday Girl’ also fails to make much of an impact so finishing on the thrash-heavy ‘Dumpamundo’ is a smart move. Half spoken vocals, shouting, crashing drums, chanting and strings are all flung into the musical cauldron to create a visceral energetic beast.
Despite a few shortcomings, Kid McCoy is the sound of band with a clearly forged identity who are consistently good if only fleetingly brilliant.