Review: The P Affection – Cakes For OccasionsTweet
The P stands for Padraig I guess. McCauley that is, multi-instrumentalist and man behind The P-Affection. This is the sophomore release for the band after their debut album - Padraig McCauley & The P Affection in 2011. The bands mission apparently is “to create a mix of indie-pop, rock, ska, synths, and folk.” Mission accomplished then, with a splash of power pop and new wave to boot, and flashes of Irish bands of yore – The Undertones; Whipping Boy; The Stunning – and while the derivations are in evidence it’s lyrically quite good, open and honest.
Opener Cakes For Occasions turns out to be quite a sweet song in more ways than the obvious, with humorous and heartfelt lyrics about friendship. It’s unabashed, as McCauley tells his feeder “And on your birthday I will bake for you” over some catchy power pop guitar. There is a touch of Vampire Weekend to the giddy instrumentation of Oh Celina, “a real cool chick” with an ill-advised reggae breakdown. They get it right on Mattress though – lovers’ rock over a broken calypso beat, and a serious grower with a nice unfussy instrumental passage, fragile to the point of collapse. It’s a love song to a significant other, but I like to imagine it narrated by his cat.
Older echoes the northern guitars of John O’Neill with a nice drum break, while Main Squeeze is another scratchy 3-chord pop number referencing Come Dine With Me and Deal Or No Deal. These things matter. The influences pop from the tracks; Day Dream with its infectious ‘be-bop-be-bo’ chorus reminiscent of The Shins will adhere itself to your subconscious; the New Order element of Made Of The Right Stuff; grungy love song Scared with its Interpol echoes. This is an album entranced by the record collection of its composer, and it’s hard to escape the comparisons despite being quite an enjoyable trip.
Gone Fishin starts the way you would expect a song with this name to start. Amiable and folky, but with enough gentle, interesting twists and turns in the melody to keep it interesting, it shows a more mature side to the song-writing of McCauley. This dimension is furthered in Folk Song, a tune that is indeed what it pertains to be, just guitar and harmonica, the lyrics downbeat and resigned. “I’ve used up all my thread as a weaver/ Now all of my words have been spun.”
McCauley flits from the tongue-in-cheek to the insightful on ‘Cakes For Occasions’, an offbeat mix of adolescent leanings and more developed observations like “I see the apron falling around your waist/ I see the cats that you saved and all the food that you made/ But still I’m scared.” Like the confections of the protagonist of the title track, this album proves to be an irresistible and varied selection, a sugar high tempered with some gentler moments that should satisfy most who dip in to its delights.