Tigercats - Isle of Dogs

by James Bray Rating:8 Release Date:2012-04-16

Tigercats are everything you could hope to hate about East London's indie scene, turned up to good. The group is completely steeped in the conventions and lore of their stomping ground and their record provides a soundtrack to a summer in the dives and dumps of Dalston. The group is based around Duncan Barrett and his brother Giles, who plays bass. The other band-members have been in and out of different indie outfits over the past five years, which makes for an assured debut.

Tigercats go for a kind of indie tropicana, reminiscent of 80s bands like Orange Juice and The Tom Tom Club, especially on lead single 'Full Moon Reggae Party'. The songs are led by chirpy, choppy guitars which give way to sweet melodies, delivered with an attitude problem. On first listen the vocals can seem snotty and languid -like someone who just woke up doing an impression of Johnny Rotten - but you soon get over any reservations and go along with Barrett's sweet and sarky take on his little world.

There is plenty of variety on Isle of Dogs; it has a bit of call and response, there are pat-a-cake bridges, radio-friendly choruses and even the odd lairy moment. The lyrics go from the bottom of London's canals to the excesses of indie romanticism. Take this line, for example, from 'The Vapors': "I dream of you/ in an imaginary record shop/ staffed by new-wave one-hit wonders". It's Albion via a John Hughes movie but that's part of the charm of the record.

The production on Isle of Dogs isn't flashy or commercial. It's simple and competent and fits in well with their aesthetic. Just to clarify, Tigercats are tea-and-cupcakes indie opposed to cigarettes-and-alcohol indie. Soon after you begin listening to the record, any skepticism you had will fall by the wayside due to the sheer weight of good songs. You'll soon be singing along to the catchy chorus of 'Limehouse Nights'; which is, by the way, "And I set fire to your sofa [repeat]".

This is a really good album, full of danceable guitar songs. It's an indie-pop manifesto, which means that it is excessively trendy. One more proviso, if you dress like English Lit students from the 80s, as Tigercats do, you can't say that the Dalston massive are idiots with ridiculous haircuts as Barrett does on 'The Vapours'. Still...

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