George Ward
George Ward

Freelance journalist based in Bristol. Can be found at the Grain Barge, Rough Trade or in his tiny basement bedroom writing for CLUNK.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Label: [PIAS] Recordings

It is not very often that a debut album sounds so confident and full of character as Freshcakes’. The production is bubbly, the instrumentation groovy and the vocals always full of life. 

The self-titled opener feels like a taster of everything that is to come. On top of a ridiculously groovy off-kilter beat, saxophones riff, and low-key vocals rap effortlessly. This infectious energy continues throughout the whole first half of the album.

Single Cornflakes’ is a seriously fun mix of silliness and sweetness, with Brandt’s vocals proving he can handle indie-pop melodies and rapped bars with equal ease. The mix is very busy but never overcrowded, with samples jumping in and out, always taking you by surprise.

Generally, this very playful production, with its heavy use of samples and sound effects, works brilliantly. ‘Lazy’ is a great example of this and, as the track jumps from sound to sound, the production becomes very much a character of its own and just as full of life as any instrument. 

Not every moment is as in your face, however, and while sometimes this is successful, like ‘Loudmouth‘’s stripped back outro showing off the band’s control, other moments come off as less original. While Banji’s most lively moments, surely inspired by the equally playful and colourful Glass Animals, are delightful, other lowkey tracks like ‘Chills‘, with its chorus very clearly resembling a by-the-numbers 1975 track, make you wish that this energy could seep into every one of the 13 tracks.

However, while not every track is as bubbly and infectious as the squelchy synths of ‘Dogbreath’ or ‘Cornflakes‘, it is moments like the garage-inspired drums on ‘Listen’ or the hugely emotional drop on ‘Maybe’ that showcase why Freshcakes’ is a special debut LP: Banji’s unabashed confidence. 

Not every sound works, but Banji experiment with so many textures that when they do work, they fill you with joy and leave you wondering quite how an album can sound so bright and full of life.