Cockatoo are a Canadian based-band led by the virtuoso talents of guitarist/singer Robyn Bright, who also performs as a solo act and one half of experimental duo Hamsas Xii. Cockatoo themselves are content to shimmer around the genres of post-punk and dream pop whilst casting longing glances at goth music.
‘Present’ begins with satisfying fleshy tribal drums and Bright’s forlorn yet powerful vocals. It’s a bewitching beginning continued by ‘Lost In My Own Sound’, which draws on Siouxsie And The Banshees’ ‘Juju’-era but brings forth its own intensity and melodrama. Both lyrically and musically it captures the essence of ‘Present’, with the band seemingly adrift in a gothic storm or perhaps the ‘Abyss’ that is name-checked in track number nine. Mood-wise the only way is down which can create a claustrophobic atmosphere, particularly on the less urgent material from the second half of the album where Cockatoo begin to sound like a spent force; seemingly exhausted from hammering away on guitars and percussion.
Cockatoo aren’t a band to go for obvious hooks, instead they play the long game with their songs building and building in tension, grinding the listener into submission. It’s a technique perfected on The Mission-like guitar walls for ‘Disguises’ and the similarly mesmeric, multi-layered likes of ‘Static’, ‘Barricades’ and ‘Pokerfaced’. In a rare case of immediacy, ‘Kashikikawa’ is one of only two songs to clock in under four minutes and a few more shorter songs would have been welcome to break up the prolonged angst.
By the time of the gruelling, driving finale ‘Hit & Run’, it’s hard not to feel a sense of fatigue due to the sheer relentlessness of the band’s performance. Certainly, given the lack of variation on the near hour-long ‘Present’, the album could have done with a little bit of pruning. However, the doom-laden conviction of the band can be captivating and for the first half of this album at least, their manifesto is gripping.
Siouxsie And The Banshees, All About Eve, The Attic Ends