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Little Cub

Dancing the Pain Away

Jul 13, 2017 Issue #60 - Father John Misty Photography by James Loveday (for Under the Radar) Bookmark and Share

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While Little Cub‘s moniker might seem like an odd fit for a project focused on dancefloor-ready club singles, there’s a bit of an intention behind it. “When we started the project, we were talking about what kind of statement we wanted to make and we realized how asinine and meaningless a band name isI noticed how many band names are an adjective and a noun,” explains the band’s Duncan Tootill. “Band names have nothing to do with the music [bands] make. The name channels a sweet folk band, but the music we make is dance music.”

Little Cub is definitely no “sweet folk” band. Hailing from South London, they know how to do dark synth pop right. The bandcomprised of Tootill (synths/keyboards), Dominic Gore (lead vocals), and Adrian Acolatse (synths/keyboards)began as friends, first meeting a decade ago, but soon after realized they could put their love for LCD Soundsystem, Aphex Twin, and New Order to good use. Now, the band’s fusion of pulsating house, techno, and synth-pop rhythms, accented with isolated vocals, has resulted in their debut album, Still Life.

The trio’s often autobiographical music is shameless in its pursuit to reveal their imperfections. “We like writing songs that are a bit more honest and true to lifewe do fuck up and we do make mistakes,” admits Acolaste.

On the band’s first single “Loveless” (released last fall), Little Cub wrote about Gore’s friend. “[It’s about] his relationship breaking down with the person he was with,” explains Gore. “With that particular song, they were two very good friends of mine, and it was sort of interesting that they were so lovely as people and such good friends to everyone around them, but they were becoming so unpleasant to each other. I thought it was interesting that because of the intimacy you end up staying and doing things you would never do to your friends. It’s horrible, but it’s life.” Harmonically the track sounds very positive, but essentially the message is quite dark, showing how the band likes to play with juxtaposed ideas from lyrics to music. It’s something that runs throughout Little Cub’s body of work.

While “Loveless” was just a jumping off point for Little Cub, on Still Life, the themes of the record are a bit broader, with songs that are more politically-minded or tackle sports and culture. But with all of their music, Little Cub try to address things from a personal angle. “I’ve always found it more jarring when people talk about issues with personal experience,” confesses Gore. “Cynicism comes into it a lotgetting to that point in your life where you question decisions you’ve made and decisions other people have made in their lives. Maybe something you saw 10 years ago that was abhorrent or unpleasant, is now just normal.”

While some bands might be more apt to candy coat their life experiences, the members of Little Cub aren’t. “I think we play with this idea that ‘I’m a bit shit but you’re a bit shit too,’” Gore explains. It’s that candid perspective that makes Still Life refreshing and welcomed. “I always liked looking at [the album] like a snapshot of time and how your thoughts and feelings change over the course of 10 years,” says Gore.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Spring 2017 Issue (April/May/June 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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Freddie Fitter
August 21st 2017

Little Cub are pretty good I reckon.