Cattle & Cane are led by brother/sister duo Joe and Helen Hammill, with brothers Fran and Vim also joining the party to provide backing music.
It is this male-female alternation which makes them really stand out. Switching vocals between Joe and Helen from track to track keeps proceedings fresh and offers a new perspective with each number. The final result is an album that while not varying too largely in musical style never seems to drag due to the constant switching viewpoint.
It is alt-pop of a Goldfrapp, Royksopp and Zola Jesus nature, off-kilter beats punctuated by soulful vocals at one juncture with acoustic wandering at another which brings a haunted aura to the table.
There can be a hint of Arcade Fire, too, in some of the choruses. The high pitched vocals of Fool For You is one such occasion. The soaring and uplifting feel with a heavy percussion backing could have been penned by the Canadian/French songsmiths in their early career days – as could the more emotive I’ve Been Silent.
Dealing With The Devil is almost Nick Cave-like in its construction, even if a lack of Cave himself softens some of the impending feeling of danger. But it is here Joe showcases his real vocal talents as he switches octaves with ease as the track becomes a mournful warning to anyone expecting a solely breeze-pop ride.
Paper Man is high quality in its simplicity – the stripped back nature allowing Joe’s vocals to take centre stage to tell their tale.
Helen gets the spotlight for Saviour, another softly softly approach which pushes vocal talents to the fore with the music almost an afterthought. It works.
With mastering from Frank Arkwright (Arcade Fire, Coldplay, New Order) this was always going to float down the alt-pop route. And it provides harmonies to melt even the hardest of hearts. This family affair can return freely on evidence like this. A nice, calm listen to accompany any Sunday morning.
Cattle & Cane play The Flapper in Birmingham on Friday, May 5.