It’s a very puzzling time to be British. The country is set to withdraw from the EU with all the grace and finesse of a hippo withdrawing from a mud pond, while the uncertainly simply seems to fuel further reactionary, right wing thought.
It’s helpful, then, to be reminded that we’re actually good at something. We’re pretty good at music, for example – at producing literate, thoughtful voices, voices that cut against the grain through the sheer intelligence of their delivery.
Voices like Little Cub, in other words. The Peckham trio’s debut album ‘Still Life’ is out now, and it’s a rather wonderful thing – a fresh, dynamic introduction to a project that seems to blossom into vivid colour as the country around it crumbles into grey-flecked dust.
“I guess we wanted to keep a core aesthetic that seemed timeless and not dated,” explains Duncan Tootill. “I think we feel like there’s maybe been a bit of a drop off in recent years with more timeless songwriting. The template now is so throwaway. The industry is geared up for not really making careers. They have these instant hits that make a lot of money in a second but then go away, and I think we wanted to provide a bit of a juxtaposition to that.”
“The core of it there is this idea of a song that will be listened to in say 100 years… even as the style might date hopefully the songs and the meanings in them won’t.”
Bold words, but then Little Cub are able to stand by them – ‘Still Life’ really is that strong. Constructed at their Peckham base, it’s a record that fuses timeless songwriting with club culture, glorious melody with wonderfully obtuse, off kilter moments. It’s something that hits home immediately, but takes more than a few listens to fully reveal its secrets.
“I think there’s a lot of groups at the moment – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – who have this attitude towards creating perfect facsimiles of things from the past,” says Dominic Gore. “And the way that we’ve put this together is that we all do have different tastes and it’s almost pushing a square peg into a round hole… those two things might not naturally fit”.
A record that jars, a record that intrigues, ‘Still Life’ – despite its title – resolutely refuses to stay in one place. “The process is the three of us working individually and then putting things together,” Dominic explains. “But it does happen fairly organically and we try not to force things too much.”
“We don’t just have one version of a song,” he adds. “The reason we do remixes is that we were trying to say: Look, we change these things all the time. It’s emotion. It’s snapshots. The still life thing is… they’re alive. They’re hopefully constantly developing in some sense.”
Already looking to the future Little Cub work continuously, with Duncan admitting that “I think we get bored quite easily, so we try to do as much as possible.”
Dominic starts to chuckle: “We make a lot of stuff, so hopefully people will want to hear it.”
Shot through with political and social concerns, ‘Still Life’ is a record that will only gain in meaning. The looming general election heightens the tensions at work within the music, something the band themselves are already anticipating.
“With the album generally we saw the songs as snapshots of what’s been going on in our lives so for the last year or so. And I do think politics is something that does play a huge part in so many of the conversations that people are having,” says Dominic. “Maybe I don’t know all the answers to this, or maybe I’m flawed as a human being but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still express my thoughts.”
“Your thoughts are the only things that are relevant,” Duncan insists. “Your experiences can only come from yourself. It can only be personal, because without that it’s not going to be honest.”
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'Still Life' is out now.
Photo Credit: Megan Eagles