There isn’t anything close to a dud on Now You Are A Dancer and from the opening bars of the insanely catchy The Wrench there follows a slightly manic, utterly captivating 10-song arc of tales about alcohol-drenched break-ups, school-day horror stories and stumbling through the error-strewn experiences of getting older.
The album takes its title from a line in Who’s Looking At You Anyway?, one of those poignant snapshots of a complicated life dressed up as a warm, snappy, hook-laden pop song, the kind Kid Canaveral do so well. This is followed by second songwriter Kate Lazda’s Skeletons — most of the album is written by lead singer David MacGregor — a hypnotic, languid, menacing track that in many ways sounds nothing like what MacGregor might write, but provides a fantastic counterpoint to his sense of urgency. Now That You Are A Dancer bows out in a fuzz of feedback and flooded harmonies with A Compromise. And yet there is none and this is Kid Canaveral’s greatest strength.
Legend has it that Kid Canaveral almost expired in an amp inferno during the making of their excellent second LP, Now That You Are a Dancer. Said loudspeaker burst into flames as the Scottish alt-rock quartet recorded album closer, ‘A Compromise’ – a mind (and circuit) blowing epic which singer-songwriter David MacGregor describes as their ‘loudest and longest’ song to date. Presumably he was too shell-shocked to include words like ‘awesome’, ‘loin-bothering’ and ‘thrilling’ about the surprisingly brooding opus, but they are equally valid.
As evinced on glorious alt-chorales like ‘Her Hair Hangs Down’ from the band’s terrific 2010 debut album, Shouting at Wildlife, MacGregor is one of Scottish pop’s most distinct, and promising voices. And alongside Kate Lazda, Rose McConnachie and Scott McMaster, he has crafted an outstanding follow-up in Now That You Are a Dancer. Witness the swooning drive-rock of ‘The Wrench’, the beatific lullaby of ‘Low Winter Sun’, the electro-lament of Lazda’s ‘Skeletons’ and the hyperactive power-pop of ‘Breaking Up Is the New Getting Married’ – not to mention the shimmering indie doo-wop of ‘Who Would Want to Be Loved’.
‘A Compromise’ kicks off like Frankie Goes to Hollywood and falls into an S&M axe-grind, driven by a whip-crack and the lure of illicit realms (‘my hands have no business being on this waist’); ‘Who’s Looking at You, Anyway?’ is a harmonic paean to vanity and dancing; and ‘What We Don’t Talk About’ is a euphoric echo-chamber within which to dodge relationship candour.
The over-riding sense is that what we have here is a brilliant indie-rock album; that we are fortuitous to have Kid Canaveral; that they did not go up in flames, but boy, are they on fire.