I have been sitting on this review for a week, even wrote a full one, then deleted. Not because new offering from Cage Park is a bad one. Rather out of dilemma. How do you objectively review a band that you know in person for years and followed their entire career without sounding biased?
I’ve first met Edie Mist (bass/vox), Leo White (guitar), Arthur Belben (vox) and Reuben Saunders (drums) around 2017, when the average age of band members was 15. Now they are all grown up and ready for university. It`s rather hard not to feel over protective but let`s put auntie Malicia`s personal feeling on the side for a bit.
Before becoming Cage Park, the band was known as Flares. In 2019 they released their first self-titled EP, sold out almost every gig they played in Birmingham and shared stages with the likes of The Magic Gang, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Bang Bang Romeo, Spilt Milk Society or Sugarthief. In 2020, the band followed with second EP “Parma Violets” that landed them on national and international festivals (digital and in real life) and resulted in backing from BBC Introducing West Midlands.
In about 5 years Cage Park not only managed to craft their own sound but became one of the artists tipped to make it at national level. And if you need a proof, look no further than their new material.
“Hand Me Downs” is a title track from upcoming EP to be released in April. It finds the band presenting more mature, almost reflective side. Don’t get me wrong, the signature harmonies and catchy guitar works are still present, but don’t expect the funky, happy-go-lucky tunes anymore. Cage Park morphed into a well-oiled machine, every hook and note are in their place. Surprisingly, they sound very grungy, almost as if they were aiming for college radio stations across the Pond. The rhythm section is particularly interesting – if the band wanted to go into lower registers, they would sound like Alice in Chains off “Heaven Besides You”. There are clear inspirations from Wolf Alice and Alvvays as well, but Cage Park remain faithful to their winning formula of balancing male/female vocals with melodic lines.
Maybe, the production could spice up the vocals a bit more, they sound the same though out the song, but that’s no complaint, just my own preference.
In all “Hand Me Downs” (alongside with previous singles “Mud” and “Bus”) opens a new, exciting chapter for the quartet. They have outgrown their pond and will need to take their music to bigger stages and venues outside Digbeth.
I have always been a cheerleader for this band. That is unlikely to change. There is something special in those four childhood/school friends, kind of chemistry that is hard to replicate.
Well done kids.
(auntie) Malicia Dabrowicz