Found, Cancel The Astronauts

Helen Newbery 12/03/2008

It's always worth turning up early to the Wee Red; for starters, it means you can ensconce yourself in one of the comfy seats scattered around the venue, and then there's the atmosphere of the place itself, with its blood-red walls lit by the candles placed strategically about. Things are even more convivial this evening, as it's the first birthday bash of Edinburgh's monthly Trampoline night, and they've got the balloons out. There's also looped film footage by local artist Jacob Bee projected onto the stage as we're waiting for the bands to come on. Oh yes, and there are free lollipops too.

Openers Cancel The Astronauts are full of poppy exuberance. 'I Am The President Of Your Fan Club (And Last Night I Followed You Home)' is typical; all perky guitar and clattering drums. 'I Hate You All and I Wish You Were Dead' is another incongruously cheerful slice of poppiness, and 'Slow Dance at the Disco' is full of post-punk bounciness. They specialise in songs with the most downbeat of titles, but sung in the most upbeat of ways. It's not all relentlessly bouncy, however, and they are not afraid to change the tempo, as in 'Scots' and 'Late in the City'. Charismatic frontman Matthew Riley has an entertaining line in between-song banter, talking about “the sphere of death” at the front of the stage (you know, the bit that no-one ever wants to colonise), and he even manages to get everyone clapping along at one point. Closer 'It Ended on a High' has hints of something darker: “these people suck the very breath of me”. However, Cancel The Astronauts are at their best when playing their high-octane guitar-pop. And amazingly, there were four new songs in their set tonight, which bodes well for their future.

Found seems an appropriate name for the Edinburgh fivepiece. It's as if they find lost sounds and re-home them inside their songs. 'Some Fracas of A Sissy' samples Chinese singing, others incorporate seemingly random sounds into their electronica-with-acoustic-guitars feel, but the end result is always clean and assured. Most of the material is taken from their album 'This Mess We Keep Reshaping', whose title hints at the universal themes covered in their lyrics; concerns which affect us all. Their songs are structurally constantly surprising: the melody of 'Plotkiller' twists and turns in unexpected directions but returns each time to the, ahem, killer tune. The new song previewed tonight melds insistent afro beats with a woozy electronica. Like much of Found's work, in theory it shouldn't work at all, but in practise it does, and seamlessly. It sometimes feels as if there should be far more than five people on stage, such are the variety of sounds they manage to create.

Found are just as good when the effects are stripped away to reveal the quality of the songwriting, as on the singalong 'Admission Number Two': “so can we drop down the guards and think about the good times”, with the inevitable comedown: “I hope that when we're sober we'll remember what it's all about”. They can also be genuinely uplifting, as when all five members sing in harmony: “I'll be by the door, same place as always, same as before.” And throughout all of this Bee's films continue to loop, with a split screen showing fluffy clouds on one side and Fred and Ginger dancing on the other, miraculously always seeming to be in time with the music.

Photo by Reuben Paris.