Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - Searching for the Hows and Whys
Anyone who tries to talk politics nowadays is pretty much onto a loser. Our political leaders look and sound alike. The major issues of our day- global warming, mass surveillance, terrorism- all have an air of fatalism about them. Corporations exert an increasingly large and inescapable influence on all of our lives. And there’s bugger all we can do about any of it, frankly. If voting and protesting aren’t going to change things, then what makes Sam Duckworth, aka Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly think that singing about it can?
‘Searching for the Hows and Whys’, his second, painfully earnest, offering, addresses some of the aforementioned issues, to little success. There are many problems with the record, and sonically, it sounds far too pleasant. The musical backdrops are poppy, kind of pseudo drum n bass (Nitin Sawhney produced) with strings, but less exciting than that might sound. In fact, it comes out sounding worryingly like Scouting For Girls. All the songs follow this template, so much so that I was really hoping that he might just cut loose at least once and give us a big balls-out guitar solo. But no. It’s fourteen tracks of weak lemon drink indie. And though these are short songs, they add up to a very long album. He’s no vocalist either, sounding less like an angry young man and more like a slightly miffed bloke, who SHOUTS A LOT to indicate his righteous anger at the state of the world, largely because his lyrics are so straightforward they defy any other interpretation.
There are two types of song on this album- political and love. Duckworth is a bit more convincing when writing love songs, but not enough to be particularly interesting. It almost feels like the politicised songs have been added to give him a selling point and make him seem less dull. Certainly, tracks like ‘The Children are the Consumers of the Future’ (which contains a zeitgeist hogging reference to Sex and the City…) and ‘I Could Build You a Tower’ display a rather shallow understanding of contemporary issues, with a lot of railing against things, but not enough trying to offer answers. Maybe that’s the whole point of the album’s title, but nonetheless it’s still irresponsible to be offering such a naïve view of the world to the thousands, possibly millions (though I hope not…), of people who will eventually hear this album. It’s also a bit dubious to be criticising consumerism when your album has fancy artwork, polished production and is being put out by a subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
As an artistic statement, Searching for the Hows and Whys aims at topicality but lands at banality. It’s bland, guileless pop, and lyrically disinteresting, which is why it comes as no surprise that there’s a late guest appearance from Kate Nash, pretty much Duckworth’s female equivalent. This air of indie self-satisfaction completely denies the album of any merit it might accidentally have, and though a case could be made that the underpowered feel of it is entirely appropriate given the times we live in, that doesn’t seem to be what its makers had in mind.