THE CANNON, SELF-RELEASED
Craic, or more properly the craic, is an Irish slang term for the kind of loud, boisterous gossip you’d hear from ruddy-faced stereotypes in Tourist Board commercials — less so from actual Irish people, who are more concerned with their country’s financial collapse and trying to spot cast members from Game of Thrones. Craic the Lens are a Calgary band, originally a solo project, with a Gaelic influence and punk roots. But like modern Ireland, their album The Cannon does a good job of displaying all the signifiers of an authentic past and not such a great job of making it feel real.
Their melodic, radio-friendly take on punk is pleasant enough, but it will leave purists wondering if a less-committal genre-identifying adjective, like “rock,” wouldn’t be more appropriate. Their folk parts are similarly middle-of-the-road and so many mediocre bands are filling out their sound with banjos nowadays that they’re becoming to this decade what turntables were to the nineties. The production is just too clean — even though it’s completely DIY, enough money seems to have been spent on making it sound as big and polished as Bastille to give Shane MacGowan ice in his grill. Don’t even get me started on the praise for the IRA in the album’s second track — Google “Omagh Bombing”’ sometime, guys.
I spent this album wishing Craic the Lens would double down and be more something — more punk, more Irish, more anything.
By Gareth Watkins