Here are the names of bands that flitted through the mind of a music critic while listening to the Capes' debut album, Hello: the Buzzcocks, Wire, Oasis, the Beatles, the Kinks, the Beach Boys, Squeeze, the Beatles (again), the Jam, the Kinks (again), the Beach Boys (again). That is august company, of course, and it is also indicative of the Capes' music, which is catchy, guitar-based pop/rock that edges toward punk/new wave rock, but also boasts enough keyboard blips to show greater musical sophistication, along with occasional harmonies to sweeten things and often clever lyrics declaimed in clear British accents. In the mid-'60s, many of these tracks could have been hit singles; in the late '70s, they could have set clubs pogo-ing. In the 2000s, they can admittedly sound somewhat retro at times, but the Capes manage to reinvent their influences for their own purposes and play with enough conviction to make this infectious music their own. And they throw enough odd ingredients into the mix (the Japanese "chat" in "Shinjuku Hi-5," the eerie synth riffs in "Francophile [Ver 1.5]") to give the songs individual character. The Capes are not just pale imitators of previous generations of British rock bands, even if they bring many of those bands to mind. They accomplish the feat of taking an utterly familiar style and coming up with something new.
by William Ruhlmann