Stream Think Nothing, the critically acclaimed new album from Irish band We Cut Corners, available at this SoundCloud link
All those guitars and keys. Who needs the fuss? We Cut Corners, a two-piece from Dublin consisting of drummer/ vocalist Conall Ó Breacháin and guitarist/ vocalist John Duignan, have got rid.
The band say that their name was a mildly self-mocking reference to the amount of time it has taken them to release their albums. It could equally describe their music: all their very precise songs say everything that is needed in less than three minutes, and their sound is incredibly expansive for such a small outfit with two just instruments - much more so than many four-pieces. Here, not a second is wasted, there are no lulls or lowlights, and the music is enhanced by the lack of bass or synth.
Think Nothing, their second album, has received universal critical acclaim. The Irish Times says it "one of the most creative, well-rounded albums you'll hear this year", while Phil Taggart of BBC Radio One called it "perfect guitar pop."
The two-piece band format really took off with The White Stripes. Since then, so many different artists - Japandroids, The Kills, and Beach House to name but a few - have taken that basic set-up in such different directions that it's as now as puerile to compare them as it is to compare Sugababes and Radiohead because there are three members in each. We Cut Corners have their very own style and sound, with the set-up really allowing vocals and storytelling come to the fore.
Ó Breacháin and Duignan both see the limitations of a two-piece as an exciting creative challenge. Most importantly, perhaps, they have a very clear idea of who they are and how to turn their possible limitations into their great strengths. But they're not afraid to change and grow: the addition of strings arrangement from classical composer John Buckley in three songs takes the listener on a very lovely journey.
"We like to surprise people, so we often juxtapose slower more contemplative numbers with visceral, high energy rockier songs," says Ó Breacháin. "Both our albums to date have been wilfully reductive, as we don't have the facility or inclination to indulge in long instrumental passages. We like the idea of introducing a melodic or harmonic idea, varying it, and then moving on without laboring it. We try to convey the songs' narratives in as succinct a manner as possible and this also informs our records' brevity."
Ó Breacháin's utterly distinct voice is sweet and intense; as a result, Duignan sometimes doesn't get the recognition his own vocal skills deserve. But the combination of Ó Breacháin's falsetto and Duignan's darker tones are perhaps central to their sound; these are two voices - and two musicians - that were made for one another.
Upcoming gigs in Ireland:
- Button Factory, Dublin May 9th
- Spirit Store, Dundalk May 16th
- Set Theatre, Kilkenny May 24th
- Wesport Festival of Music and Food, June 29th
- Longitude, July 20th
- Indiependence Music and Arts Festival, August 1st
- Castlepalooza Music and Arts Festival, August 2nd