A concise album of intimately confessional poppy songs from Te Whanganui-a-Tara-based Caught Inside, ‘5 Star Shag’ is essentially a 6-track taster from the self-described ‘diasporic jaffas’ four-piece.
The songs range from mellow dreamy pop, including some lovely strings in places, to more guitar-driven up-tempo numbers like Durry (with the eminently singable chorus, “Honey can you roll me a durry?”).
Illustrating an impressive control of dynamics Intro builds from a breathy synth drone to acoustic guitar strum and keeps adding elements until it suddenly peaks with a pounding 4-on-the-floor drumbeat with accompanying pumping bass and cranked electric guitar. Durry mixes pacey pop with jazz tones and engaging vocals, then Hot Moss drops the tempo and mood back very much into jazz territory and an irreverent discourse on dentistry.
Punky fun title track 5 Star Shag is about… well, let’s face it, these are some of the most direct songs you’re likely to hear. Little gets left to the imagination making it a bit like listening to the audiobook version of someone’s diary.
The last two tracks are unexpectedly reflective in feel. Burn That Breath has a great jazzy bass line underpinning it, and it’s here that the supportive strings arrive. They turn up again on the final track She’s Dancing, which adds another dimension by featuring a mellow male vocal alongside Frankie Smith’s conversational croonings.
Initially recorded as demos crafted during an NZ On Air development project with producer/engineer Emily Wheatcroft-Snape, this mini-album casually establishes the songwriting and playing credentials of Caught Inside. With band members having moved from Tāmaki Makaurau to Wellington to study jazz, it’s going to be interesting to see how their music develops from here.