by Ben Adsett
After ‘retiring’ Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Sam Duckworth had been busy making music under his own name and as Recreations. Both projects were more personal or experimental than the GCWCF banner allowed for at the time. Last year, to celebrate independent venue week, Sam played the entirety of Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager on tour with a huge live band, in the VH review of that show we said we were hoping for a comeback, and here it is.
Young Adult is a release born from the current political unrest, but it doesn’t sound like you’d expect. Sam has clearly matured and developed during the break from this project and this might be the most mature Get Cape release to date. In previous politically charged writing, Sam has often leaned in the direction of acoustic emo and built from that foundation, here he can be found creating a much richer complex sound. This richness of sound is created with less of the digital trickery of past projects instead there are a seemingly endless array of instruments interacting and building the sound.
Opener, ‘Adults’, starts with sombre guitar and the most delicate vocal, then the electronic drums and keys begin a process of musical build up. With each verse another element is gradually added and what started gently has taken a rich emotive twist. The introduction of strings, brass and a rich bassline inject a warmth. The song ends with a sudden regression to guitar and voice cementing the sadness within Sam’s lyrics. From here the album progresses, musically, in a really engaging way.
‘Always’ has the perfect pop hook backed with a dark electronica influence, while ‘Animate’ features a deep bass line and expansive musicianship that would be perfectly comfortable sitting along side the Flaming Lips. ‘Invisible’ has pop simplicity combined with incredibly emotive vocals.
Lyrically there are some absolute gems. As always there is a simplification and association to the everyman figure within even the most complex political issues. ‘Adults’ includes the phrase: ‘Once upon a time talk was cheap, words could feed three mouths a week’, which is both personal and hard hitting. ‘DNA’ offers a tale and a question about whether people are born into attitudes and has the sweetest vocal and musicianship. It is in these combinations that the complete song-writing of GCWCF becomes apparent; the near perfect balance between lyrics, musicianship and vocal tone.
This is a release that shows maturity, anger and the ability to make a measured argument within the lyrics. It shows ambitious creativity and precision within the musicianship, there are so many layers delicately overlapping into each other and it combines into a release with purpose. Sam Duckworth is the kind of adventurous songwriter who should be celebrated; he is a genuinely believable working class hero, unlike the privately educated pretenders who take such media plaudits.
Young Adult is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings.