Review: Cockatoo – Present

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.

Cockatoo Album Cover

‘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.

Web Sites:
Cockatoo Bandcamp

Further Listening:
Siouxsie And The Banshees, All About Eve, The Attic Ends

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