Album review

Caught In The Headlights :
The Last Time We Tried

Toddler Records

Caught In The Headlights : The Last Time We TriedFor a trio of teenagers, Caught In The Headlights make more than a half decent racket. In PR-speak they deliver 'emotionally driven epic rock' and despite my dislike for marketing hype, that's a pretty good description.
    Following in the footsteps of The Cooper Temple Clause, Caught In The Headlights have already passed the predictable 200mph guitar thrash stage and developed an ear for experimentation in dynamics and vocal counterpoint. Don't be scared off when I say there is an undeniable progressive quality about the music. It stops, starts, changes direction and, well, progresses. Before you know it they'll be doing songs over seven minutes long and talking about pentatonic scales and the like.

The Last Time We Tried is their debut mini-album and like Kournikova in a mini-skirt, it shows a lot of promise. Unlike the Russian tennis erm . . . ace, it reveals influences from Mogwai to the Manic Street Preachers, via the aforementioned mighty Cooper Temple Clause. This music should be listened to for what it will become, not what it is.
    The production is as rough as a badger's arse, the vocals tend at times towards the monotone and some of the playing, whilst obviously sincere, lacks the natural flow that age and experience will bring. They may not be as polished or as transiently popular as fellow teen-rockers Busted, but this band is creatively superior and learning the craft the traditional (hard) way. They will grow stronger as a result. Trust me, I'm a doctor!
    As musicians, they are well-matched; with Philip Maughan's impassioned vocal delivery and shimmering but nonetheless aggressive guitar, Ashley Gallantree's propulsive bass and fine-tuned backing vocals, and the old man of the group, at 19, Adam Thompson's inventive and slick percussion. All this praise of course is tempered by the understanding that their relative age and inexperience means they have a way to go before they can afford to swagger with any arrogance - and let's hope they never do 'cos I'll go right off them.

All tunes on this mini-album have equal weight, except the rather pointless acoustic version of September that loses the urgency and thrill of the powered-up original. Buy it if you want to hear the genesis of a really great band, but don't expect perfection. And to the band I say; listen to as much varied music as possible and don't give up - I'm expecting good stuff. As Mr Cooper Temple would say, "Just because you can't see me doesn't mean I'm not watching."

:: Tom Alford

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