Proudly reclaiming the joyous pop sound of such early- ’80s Postcard bands as the Bluebells, Orange Juice and Aztec Camera (in fact, singer Frank Reader’s voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Roddy Frame’s), this young Scottish quintet, from coastal Irvine, parlays a rush of ringing guitars and rich broguish harmonies into an exceptionally good debut album. Roger Bechirian and John Leckie each produced tracks on the pristine-sounding Cake, adding an occasional light brush of cool jazz to the folky spines of the band’s witty and agile tunes. While there might be a tad too much Morrissey in “The Best Man’s Fall,” songs like “Obscurity Knocks,” “Only Tongue Can Tell” and “Thrupenny Tears” are calling cards of a bright new talent.
After such a promising start, I’ve Seen Everything blooms with even more depth and breadth. Deftly produced by Ray Shulman, the album boasts plenty of marvelous, grand-scale pop, especially the two splendid tracks that open it. Underneath Reader’s resigned voice, “Easy Read” makes superb use of a dripping string section to wring every ounce of drama out of a wracking tune. But the Smiths-like “Hayfever” is the group’s zenith; strings add warmth as this gorgeous, catchy track moves forcefully through dramatic verses and an arching chorus. While the LP takes a more somber, hushed turn thereafter, it never loses its thoughtful charm, and even returns to a more stomping dynamic level on the hypnotic neo-psychedelic “One at a Time.”
The group self-produced its third album, A Happy Pocket, which was released in mid-’96. A flurry of singles followed that year, but the group has not been very productive since.