Review: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – Maps
Published on May 22nd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
After releasing last year’s The Mannequin album under his real name, Sam Duckworth reverts to his Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly moniker for a record that is for the most part a sterling display of how to marry memorable hooks and melodies to relevant, considered lyricism. Some tracks are more successful at this than others, but the highlights are such gosh darn clenched-fist-in-velvet-glove fun that Maps registers as an entirely worthwhile and satisfying experience.
Opener “The Real McCoy” does indeed seem to be about Kid McCoy, but it could just as well be about turnips and it would still be thrilling. Starting as if halfway through, the sleek verses are decorated with jazzy piano tinkles and explode to the kind of big ol’ power-pop chorus that Duckworth’s controlled yet enthusiastic vocals handle expertly across the album. “Vital Statistics” sounds like Beck covering an early Beatles out-take, a fuzzy prog riff trailing the choruses for good measure, while “Daylight Robbery” places a mischievous ‘wooo!’ melody atop Pixies power chords and reminds overall of both Life on Other Planets-era Supergrass and one of Blur’s rowdier moments – in fact, Duckworth’s vocal here is at points reminiscent of a young Damon Albarn.
As mentioned, the words are more than a mere vehicle for the melodies, and conversely the melodies don’t feel as if they have been sculpted around excessive verbosity. “Three cheers for insolvency (hip hip hooray!)…” has the second verse of “Daylight Robbery” – “…and economic discrepancy (hip hip hooray!)/ Corporate responsibility (hip hip hooray!)” – it may not read like a singalong classic, but it’s all so carefully chiselled that the weightier subject matter doesn’t come across as having been shoehorned in, rather existing to serve the song as much as the more frivolous moments.
This opening one-two-three salvo is one of the strongest of any album this year, and there are more delights to come. “The Long and Short of it all” hands its verses to Jehst while Duckworth belts out the “bang, bang, bang went his head on the table!” chorus refrain with grin-inducing relish, and it all comes together so perfectly that it could have substantial ‘summer hit’ potential if only it fell upon the right ears. Think “Fit But You Know It” crossed with Kevin Ayers’s “Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes” and performed by mid-’90s Blur – it’s superb, basically.
While the more contemplative numbers on Maps don’t quite hit the mark like their more exuberant counterparts, “Offline Maps” is a gorgeous mini-epic blessed with evocative lines such as “I seldom ask the question why things aren’t working / Continually flirting with ways of shirking responsibility / When I guess the buck stops with me” and “I could blame society / And I could blame the economy / Or I could blame the despondency in the under-18s / And I could hide my disinterest / Somewhere deep in the internet / Between a joke that I didn’t get / And something else I didn’t read”. Makes a nice change from “girl, you so fine”, anyway.
“Easy (Complicated)” is more stellar fuzzy pop with pleasingly silly keyboard intrusions the likes of which make their colourful presence known across the whole record – “Less a passive resistance, more a passive existence / Everything is passing me by” sings Duckworth in contrast to the jauntiness, reinforcing the world-weariness that appears to have gripped him – before “London’s Burning” brings things to a close with synths fizzing and whirring around a luxurious string arrangement, a bellow-along chorus of “Everything’s forgiven / I knew you had it in yer” and a subsequent round of “Sympathy For the Devil”/”Loaded”-esque piano chords underpinning layered vocals that remind of the titular refrain of “Do Ya?” by ELO.
It’s a suitably anthemic end to an album that will likely receive nowhere near as much adulation as it deserves. At the very least be sure to catch Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly on this summer’s festival circuit, because here lies some solid gold summer-pop with reassuringly jagged edges.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Maps is out now on Cooking Vinyl. For more information, including a list of live dates, please visit getcapewearcapefly.com