With a Cape and a Cane
Since Franz Ferdinand defined garage-rock for a new age, and Broken Social Scene and Bloc Party released huge guitar-driven epics this year; The Joggers’ job has become a bit harder than it was when their debut Solid Guild was released.
In 2003, we were perhaps at the peak of “garage-rock.” In the wake of the White Stripes rise to legendary heights, a number of bands had emerged sounding like post-Strokes rock saviors (but who needs any saving when we have the Strokes?). But, alas, like everything good, the pool became diluted and stained with one-too-many Kaiser Chiefs and not enough Futureheads.
But in the last two years, thanks in part to the Joggers themselves, the genre has expanded and mutated as well as merged with old-fashioned indie rock to produce new sounds and ideas. Their sophomore album, With a Cape and a Cane, is a product of this movement, but it lacks the pure-bridled energy of the classic albums of the past few years. Instead of growing into the heights of Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm it veers more towards the guitar-driven sound of Broken Social Scene.
Yet while BSS perfectly smothers its harmonies and melodies in layers of glorious guitar riffs and noises, the Joggers rarely come up with something as epic as “Ibi Dreams of Pavement.” Instead they shine brightest in the simpler tunes built around multiple vocals and stronger melody.
Like the very pretty “Night of the Horespills,” which builds quite steadily towards a sing-along outro that works quite well. Or the brilliant opener “Ziggurat Traffic,” which opens the album with a 60s style sitar-echoing guitar riff that pleasantly pleases for four minutes, never blowing up, never falling apart.
But that’s not to say the new ideas worked out on the record don’t work. At times the band comes up with glorious danceable hooks that demand foot movement, or at least a good head-nodding. The way “White Madam” opens is case in point, with its cool slick riff and zippy drum beat. Earlier on “Era Prison” the Joggers reach the peak of their new sound; building armonies, monster guitars, driving drums and a pristine huge finish.
The strong guitar parts mix with scattered moments of great harmony to produce an all-around good record. But regardless, it isn’t a wholly memorable record, precisely because it seems to half-heartedly inch towards a not so fully developed sound that too many other bands have already stormed passed prior to With a Cape and a Cane.
But a year ago, this would have been solid gold.