Cut Off Your Hands
You And I
Maybe Cut Off Your Hands are shy. Their debut EP, supposedly a mixture of demos, hid behind herky-jerky, heard-this-before post punk that created concern about the speed with which New Zealand processed trends. Though it’s unfair to heap history on a young band’s shoulders, the tracks showed neither the pluck from their homeland’s Flying Nun glory years (The Clean, Straitjacket Fits, Verlaines) nor Flight Of The Conchords quirk.
You And I doesn’t blaze any trails, though it sharpens the band’s focus to The Futureheads and flaunts their decorating skills. “Happy As Can Be” bursts open with full-bore Phil Spector treatment: galloping drums and clock-tower bells. COYH have enough of a song underneath to prevent collapse, and Nick Johnson deserves credit for not trying to shout it down. Though any number of bands might have recorded “Expectations” (namely Bloc Party, Stellastarr, The Cloud Room), it hints they know what was wrong aesthetically with their EP and takes a steam iron to it. It also establishes a back-and-forth pattern between taut anthems (“Turn Cold,” “Let’s Get Out Of Here”) and this newfound Spector fascination (“Oh Girl,” “It Doesn’t Matter”). But sneaking in the Okkervil River-ish “In The Name Of Jesus Christ” shows growth and guts. Though it’s almost — almost — foiled by some ill-advised Beach Boys harmonies, the song puts faith in a simple banjo line and Johnson’s don’t-wake-the-baby vocals. That the rest of You And I crumbles afterwards only underscores its worth. Personality sure goes a long way.
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