Kap Bambino: Blacklist

Hip-as-Vice indie-electro duo Kap Bambino are fronted by Caroline Martial, a wild space creature worthy of any magazine cover the universe has yet published. In control of beats and noise is Orion Bouvier. The live show that the Bordeaux pair put on is what the band has been best known for to date - an unrelenting wash of high energy that turns the smallest of venues into a space of monumental sweat, drinks spillages and grubby shoes. And this is what Kap Bambino have been doing for a good while now, touring the UK's less expected venues several times and picking up pockets of fans and buzz along the way - the old-fashioned way. They've been together since 2001, and set up their own wwilco label as a way to get their music out and heard - and to sell a few copies on tour no doubt. All very laudable in any case, and goes to show they're not a calculated rebound from other recent Skins-a-like duos around.

Whether you can put yourself through listening to a whole album of high-octane, often ear-splitting, lyrically incomprehensible noise is a question you might want to ask yourself before purchasing ‘Blacklist’. Sometimes it's just better to go to the gigs and remember the experience, right? Especially when those gigs are as punishingly memorable as this band’s.
Though a lot of thought has gone in to the balance of the record in terms of the swells and slower moments, staying true to the people who were initial lovers of the band must have come into consideration. And so, as expected, there isn't much in the way of respite on 'Blacklist', though relief does come in an unexpected form. Melodic lines of synths interweaving with the lyrics and beats on ‘Lezard’ and ‘Batcaves’ channel all the right sorts of attention to the vocal lines, in a similar way to Late of the Pier on their gargantuan pop opuses. What can sometimes leave the album running a bit flat is the slightly cutesy vocals on ‘Rezozero’, for example, which, when coupled with the unintelligible lyrics, end up sounding like a Japanese teenager singing along to a malfunctioning karaoke machine. But this is only a small reservation, since a track like ‘Acid Eyes’ has an emotional tug to match the scenes of post-Ludovico treatment Alex in A Clockwork Orange, with the contrary motion of the vocals and synths switching from minor to soaring major and then into a thrusting finale, like Caroline's fist punching towards the sky. What a relief that this album is so much fun - self-expression through fun should be part of the national curriculum.
Jin Ho