Second album syndrome. You’re sick of hearing about it, we’re sick of talking about it, so let’s call the whole thing off. ‘Think Nothing’ is the second album from We Cut Corners, whose 2011 debut ‘Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards’ proved to be a highly effective mix of exploding energetic rock songs and wry ballads.
The mix between slow and fast songs is there on the new record, but both are reaching towards each other, with the rockers being slightly less “Sonic the Hedgehog on speed” and the slower numbers being louder and featuring more instrumentation. Strings even!
What’s most striking about the album (and its title will give you a hint of it) is that ‘Think Nothing’ feels like one of the least thought out second albums you’re likely to find. The same sense of humour is there, the same passion and energy and originality in the songwriting, but it’s slightly different. It feels newer, fresher, more expensive, but only slightly. They haven’t changed direction but it’s not just ‘Today I Realised…’ part two. In other words they ignored the second album curse as right any band should and just went into the studio and made the music they wanted to make.
Pulling back from the all out carnage of that first album was a bold choice, considering that was probably what made it such a stand-out record. The test ‘Think Nothing’ passes after only a few listens is that you don’t miss that aspect of their earlier sound. The focus has drifted from the energy to the melody, the instrumentation and the structure. Not to imply that the album isn’t energetic, just slightly less so than their first album but still more than just about everything else in Irish music. Listen to Best Friend or YKK if you’re in doubt.
We Cut Corners’ trademark wordplay and wit doesn’t disappoint here either. Something of a thematic sequel to Dumb Blonde, Maybe in the Future features such damning witticisms as “you’re not that gifted/you’re just beautifully gift wrapped” while Blue features the tragicomic “I’m not a loner/I am just alone”. As well as this is an emphasis on melody, in particular a beautifully simple riff on Mammals, which they integrate and present with an effortlessness that makes it sound almost unremarkable at first. But the more you listen the more remarkable the album becomes.
If the album features one improvement over ‘Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards’ it’s that the songs here become quickly differentiated from each other where the earlier album felt like a series of variations on the same theme. Particularly stand out is This Is Then, which presents very little in the way of instrumental progress from the first album, but in terms of melody and being willing to calm down a hectic song and doing it so that it’s hardly perceptible, it shows a definite creative growth.
We Cut Corners are the band every rock band still steeped in the set up of classic rock wishes they were, and ‘Think Nothing’ will only exacerbate this inferiority complex. It’s also the second album this year from the Delphi label to conclusively ignore second album pitfalls. The label’s line-up is consistently proving itself to be one that puts quality first, featuring artists who have definite voices of their own and aren’t afraid to let those voices scream or whisper as they wish. ‘Think Nothing’ is a success for We Cut Corners, for Delphi, and for Irish hard rock as a whole.