(Tricolour Records, out on CD on 31 March)
Named after a penniless cobbler who found an inventive way to drum up business (playing the violin in the local tavern to induce fits of dancing, thereby wearing out the soles of his clientele’s shoes), Keston Cobblers Club are the latest indie-folk darlings to have BBC 6 Music in a swoon. Such a charming back story is a perfect introduction for the kind of music the band produce, as well as a pretty apt insight into their ethos as a whole.
Sure, their influences are plain for all to see; the background whooping is more than a little reminiscent of The Lumineers, their crescendoing harmonies certainly owe something to Of Monsters and Men, the plinkplonkery of their percussion recalls Vampire Weekend and they share more than just a passing resemblance to Bombay Bicycle Club (above and beyond the similarity in name). For all that, KCC still do a superb job of retaining their own sound and doing so with such bonhomie and vim that you probably wouldn’t be too upset even if they didn’t.
Which other band would make such a good fist of imagining a budget OK Go video directed by Michel Gondry as one of their first ever offerings? Who else would devise and direct an entire festival devoted to 50s-style forest activities and general woodland hijinks as an ingenious method of promoting their album? Who would set up an entire (now sadly defunct) website solely dedicated towards persuading Fleetwood Mac to let them support them on their 2013 UK tour?
Such gently humorous and thoroughly good-natured antics are what define KCC, and they’re in evidence by the bucketload on latest offering Almost Home. The title track kicks things off (with plenty of that aforementioned whooping), letting the unacquainted know early doors what’s in store for them. ‘Concord’ picks up the indie-folk thread and takes flight with it, spreading its wings with a beautifully building chorus, though third track ‘Bicycles’ veers dangerously close to over-twee territory.
However, rabble-rousing ‘Demons’ steadies the ship with just the right amount of choral enthusiasm, with ‘On Your Own’ and ‘Hand That Feeds You’ sandwiching a couple of slower tracks with similarly upbeat energy. The one-on, one-off theme continues as the album switches back and forth between fast-paced singalongs and slow-burning crooners, before the deliciously stirring ‘All I Need’ closer threatens to steal the show by gearing you up for a night on the tiles, or sending you off to the best slumber of your life, or both. In any case, it’s an absolute delight.
If you’re vaguely interested in the music of any of the aforementioned acts but you still haven’t heard of Keston Cobblers Club, you’re in for a real treat. The band have neglected to include any Scottish dates on their 2017 tour, but with the five-piece hiding behind such a charming persona, it’s all but impossible to stay mad at them. Let’s just hope they stray north of the border soon – in the meantime, do yourself a favour and give Almost Home a good long listen.