Some time ago, So So Gay introduced you to Gaggle. Since then, we have awaited the release of this crowd’s (and we mean that literally) debut album with a certain degree of impatience. Prone to making random wild animal noises and performing ‘ninja gigs’ around London, this veritable troupe of feisty ladies certainly pack a punch on From The Mouth Of The Cave; their lyrical content touching on a range of themes from drowning your errant boyfriend to the pitfalls of capitalism.
The opening track, the aptly titled ‘From The Mouth Of The Cave’, is a sluggish, industrial number, brimming with clink-clunks and stomping beats as the band dredge their way through some fairly indistinct lyrics. It fails to excite and will leave the less perseverant listener flicking through the album flow on the lookout for better options. However, we recommend you don’t let this first track put you off as there are some real gems to follow.
Second track, ‘Army Of Birds’, was released as a single a week before the album and is devilishly catchy with its ‘oh oh, oh oh, eh’ hook and inspired rapping. The song is an ode to feminism and a rejection of misogyny; ‘Excuse me Sir / You may not have heard / But I’m not in your army / I’m in an army of birds’. Never have truer words been spoken. We challenge you not to be tapping your feet by the end of the track.
‘Power Of Money’ has a distinctly 1980s vibe to it, vaguely reminiscent of early girl groups. That said, the track is far more profound that anything conjured up by any Stock, Aitken and Waterman protégée, with lyrics such as ‘The power of money / Making people rich or poor / I hate the power of money’. No punches pulled there then. Topical, yes. Subtle, no. ‘Gaslight’ again harks back to girl groups à la Bananarama and boasts a brash, jungle-esque beat and garbled verses before a single vocalist takes over with her powerful voice.
The album takes a slightly more menacing turn on ‘Liar’, an intensely dark number on which Gaggle discuss the best method of disposing of a troublesome boyfriend. Images are evoked of a coven of witches gathered, a trembling, chained-up man cowering in the corner. The lyrics are utterly terrifying; ‘How can I tell if my man’s a liar? / Tie his fists together, throw him in the river’. After much to-ing and fro-ing on the issue, a decision is clearly made as to the cheat’s fate, as the band exclaim ‘And now he’s dead’. Scary stuff.
‘Congo’ is a raucous interlude, complete with a bloodcurdling scream and leads us into ‘Bang On The Drum’, a militaristic paradox of a tune which seems to be a call to arms on behalf of feminists, but simultaneously bemoans the necessity of said fight (‘I hate what this battle has made me become’). ‘Crows’ has pseudo-reggae beats, vocal chanting and, as would seem appropriate to the title, bird noises. Well, why not? ‘Lullaby’ meanders along pleasantly but seems marginally ill-timed with the fawning lyric ‘Will you take care of me?’ registering as rather misplaced following the brash, unashamed girl power of the tracks which precede it.
Penultimate track ‘Hello Spider’ would not be out of place on the soundtrack of a musical. Essentially an anthem to confronting your fears, it’s an epic affair and builds pleasingly before we are taken home by ‘Leave The City’, a relaxed electronica-infused number which rounds off From The Mouth Of The Cave nicely.
One of the strengths of this album is that you never feel overwhelmed by the 21 voices featured on it. Let’s face it, coordinating so many pitches, tones and, frankly, vocal abilities into a coherent harmony can’t have been an easy task. Yet, Gaggle succeed in never allowing the music to play second fiddle. In that sense, they are no regular choir. In reality, Gaggle are really very unique indeed.
Go Get It: ‘Liar’
Forget It: ‘From The Mouth Of The Cave’