London-based Bubblegum punk rockers Calva Louise are special. Not only do they write tremendously good music, but their songs are full of hooks, variety and surprise.
With culturally diverse background reaching as far as New Zealand, Venezuela and France, it’s no wonder that their debut reflects a similar diversity.
Rhinoceros is an original and ultra-vibrant collection of pop-punk songs. Although the band take inspiration from the likes of Blondie, B-52’s and Queens of the Stone Age, what they create together is something entirely different; it is their own sound.
Any attempts at describing are set to foster its own set of challenges, but this is about heavy and fuzzy guitars that sound similar to an organ.
Hooks are key and are a huge part in Calva Louise’s music. Every song on this album has a hook. It is almost as if the trio possesses the inability to write a hook-free song, even if they attempted to do so, not exactly the worst problem to have to deal with.
Having a superb frontwoman like Jess Allanic, whose guitar and vocals make up an immense part of the band’s idiosyncratic sound, undoubtedly helps, but adding to that is Ben Parker’s heavy Grohlesque drumming in flawless partnership with Alizon Taho’s mega-tight basslines. It is a remarkable display.
Another noticeable talent the band exhibit relates to working with different sonic dynamics, and their song Getting Closer suitably demonstrates that. Starting off quietly, one could easily be forgiven for thinking this is the sound of a sweet little girl chanting, but then a massive scream breaks out. This is followed by a super-catchy chorus before another full-on screaming climax brings the track to completion.
Rhinoceros deals with the subject of learning who you are, and lyrics and themes are fascinating territories, “We enjoy adventuring into a reality with a pinch of humour and optimism,” explains Jess.
Growing up in France, Alizon and Jess read Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco at school and although it was written in the 1950s they could both easily relate to the story about a person who learns to stay true to his values and not just follow everybody else.
One way to look at Rhinoceros is to compare it to your own special necklace, made up of individual pearls. Take a song like Outrageous, with its snappy, grungy edginess and the way Jess spits the words out, it makes it feel as if she aims at spitting the words out at you but then there is also get a song like the softly-textured No Hay, sung in Spanish, a song entirely different in vibe to I’m Gonna Do Well.
Rhinoceros is the most imaginative and indigenous debut albums heard in a while, and whilst many bands would find the prospect of writing a follow-up to something as good as this daunting, Calva Louise will hopefully take it in their stride. They’re more than capable of exceeding expectations, and to think their second album might get even stronger, is by no means ridiculous.
Rhinoceros by Calva Louise is out now.