Every once in a while, a band comes out of the gate with their best foot forward, challenging the current trend and stamping their name across the books as ones to watch. Calva Louise is such a band to make our generation rethink the modern and reject the corrupted mainstream in favour of something more visceral.
As a whole, ‘Rhinoceros’ is an anthemic cry out to the coming-of-age, the original, and the riotous individual dwelling inside each soul. Calva Louise comprises a trio of talent hailing from all corners of the world. Having ventured together, Venezuelan front-woman Jess leads with an unapologetic guitar and vocal, while Ben of New Zealand holds up the beat on drums, and Frenchman Alizon lays down the bass lines, along with some thundering rhythms that peal from hand-built pedalboards.
In this debut, they tip a hat to the absurd and the satirical state of life, the title a direct reference to the 1950’s avant-garde playwright Eugène Ionesco and his work by the same name. There is also a hint of Voltaire blurred between the fuzzy grunge-pop and scuzzy punk riffs that match to the humorous optimism of Candide with the overarching message of breaking from reality to find what you’re really made of. Drawing from strong themes of conformity, culture, morality, and parody, ‘Rhinoceros’ wastes no time in being direct and bold. Speaking of the personal project that the album has emerged from, Jess reveals that the idea behind the album’s narrative is “about the meandering thoughts you have as a young adult; questioning who you are and your purpose, whether you’re the person you want to be, what life is and realising it’s more fun than what it’s supposed to be.”
The album is a call-to-arms, fully fledged with overdriven riffage, unpredictable cadence, and intersections where grunge-pop and garage-punk overlap creating infectious walls of sound. Previous singles ‘Outrageous’ and ‘Getting Closer’ in particular come to the forefront, both melodically driven, the former a raucous characterisation of our time and the latter a satirical search for one’s identity. Anthemic tracks ‘I Heard A Cry’ and ‘Out Of Use’ follow the same unbridled formulas. For the most part, all 10 tracks are jam-packed with energy, and captivatingly so. Even the few numbers that take a softer approach, such as ‘Down The Stream’ and Spanish tune ‘No Hay’ still morph into something dynamically vibrant.
Calva Louise have carved out a charming niche in the punk genre, unexpected and perhaps unparalleled in today’s music. ‘Rhinoceros’ boasts a fusion of the band’s skill set, serving as an explosion of effect- heavy, silky guitar work, refreshing rhythms that go slightly awry, and explosively strategic vocal work that well suits their anthemic style. In their campaign to be authentic, the trio has achieved something quintessentially DIY-punk. It’s outrageous, really.
Words: Jill Guthrie
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