There are two Cattle and Canes on this new album, the ones who play catchy country-tinged pop such as the opener Skies and the ones who play blandly dull pop tunes that have as much traction with the listener’s brain as a greased pig on a pole. We always hope a band does well — they’ve generally worked hard to get an album out — but while we can see Cattle and Cane enjoying some success, we can also see them becoming the butt of jokes for their disposable tunes, somewhere between One Direction and Boyzone.
Opener Skies is excellent, though, with a big chorus, pleasing verse structure and some brassware that almost threatens to become mariachi trumpet at the end. Who can resist a spot of mariachi? Not us. It’s country but it sounds cool and hip. Ditto The Poacher, a bluesy stomper that comes later on; it’s a bit BRMC.
Track two Come Home takes a more Mumford route (as do so many songs recently) but it’s still good. But then so does track three Red, though it’d be the dull side of the Mumfords and it’s heading towards pop/boyband territory, which is where the more saccharine tracks In Your Arms and Belle do end up.
After the promising start of Skies, and the highlights elsewhere, it’s a bit disappointing. If you think the Mumfords and Mr Sheeran are just too darn loud you’ll probably love this. They can pull off slower songs successfully: Sold My Soul is nice, with acoustic guitar pickery and the singer finding his own voice rather than using Mr Mumford’s. The same is true of Birdsong, a more atmospheric tune. It’s a shame they tail off into blandness just a little too often.