This article was first published on Louder Than War on 27 January 2013.


Bentcousin – Everybody’s Got One (Team Love)
Released 18 February 2013

We featured them as a New Band of the Day last year and tipped them in our 50 new bands 2013 list; now we finally get our ears around the debut album of scuzzy-sweet pop-punk from Bentcousin.

Bentcousin has been flirting with me. They’ve been teasing me on Twitter and dropping dirty little demos into my inbox. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t enjoyed it, been revelling in the anticipation of more.

And now they’ve made good on their promise and delivered an album. A tiny little six-track baby of an album but enough to take me from the piqued interest of flirtation to falling in love with this brilliant band.

Primarily consisting of twins Amelia and Pat, Bentcousin’s persona is part sassy street kid, part doe-eyed innocence and part sleazy suggestion. In their early 20s they sing of-the-moment modern songs of life and love, packed with cultural references well beyond their years.

It starts off with a gentle number; Amelia’s vocal all catching breath and words whistling through teeth. There’s a sweetness to the sentiment but the undertow of sexual need gives it an edge. The pop culture touch points start to drop here, effortlessly cool in their kitsch.

Slade starts with a curl of a Placebo-sounding riff and Pat brings on the grunge. But this is the big, messy, give-it-a-go grunge rather than the smacked-out-slacker variety. It sounds more like it comes from a basement flat in Brighton than a garage in the Seattle suburbs but the grunge influence is there all the same. And it’s bloody great.

Then, to take us up to the half way mark (already? too soon) is I Quit You. Another perceptively observed and pleasingly presented wry take on relationships today backed with enough oompah-pahs to put the average Eurovision entry to shame, keeping the sense of fun at the fore.

F.O.R.G.E.T is shouted repeatedly in a call and response vocal that puts a shallow pop sheen around some simply expressed but meaningful lyrics. Not soul-searching, hand-wringing emotional frailty but a recognition of how humans manage to contemplate the big picture and then force themselves back into a microcosm of triviality on a daily basis.

Perhaps the weakest link in this collection for me is Glittery Joe, but that still leaves is stronger and more appealing than much of what is around today. It doesn’t have the insistent hook each present elsewhere on this album but is a scuzzy story bleeding more kitsch references, ooh-ooh-OOH backing vocals and lines that don’t quite scan but work all the same.

As the record ends we’re taken full circle as Amelia fronts a quieter I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You. All estuary vowels and wry remarks this is the sort of song you wish John Lewis would use on their adverts instead of insipid covers of melancholic pop moments from the past.

This song observes perfectly the way we measure morality today and beyond that gives the sense of a band naturally finding their place, and these songs. A band that is making brilliant modern pop without really trying.

Everybody’s Got One is a 20 minute showcase of what Bentcousin is about. They can craft a lyric with wit, cynicism or naivity. They can do the sort of punky pop that grabs you without permission, whirls you giddily round the dancefloor, kisses you roughly and then pushes you aside. They can do cutecore and gloriously grungy disco stomps. They can be confident enough in their intelligence and ability that they’re not scared to put fun at the fore.

Yes, Bentcousin can do all of this. But more than this they make you fall in love with them and then leave you wanting more.

All words by Sarah Lay.

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