Retrospective | Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – ‘The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager’
Has it really been seven, maybe even eight years? Holy shit. Things were different eight years ago. Not even everyone was on MySpace back then.
FFO: Ben Marwood, Into It. Over It, Baths
He blew everyone away for a few years. He hit some heights as-then unseen for the little scene he burst out of – only Frank Turner has gone on to top him, really. But all along, even though he sold out his anti-capitalist stances to sign to a major label, even though he gave a massively ineffective performance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks once, even though he ditched out on playing with his old friends to go be pals with Billy Bragg, he was always ours. No matter what the fuck he’s doing now, back then he belonged to us. We were there from the start, in the empty rooms. We watched him grow, we fuckin’ made him, man. Back before social networking made it a lot easier for any band to gain a nationwide following (because, let’s face it, even with MySpace it was harder even in 2005/6 than it is now), it was pretty rare to see someone blow up right in front of your eyes in the way Get Cape did.
The apex of it all, before he got too far from his D.I.Y. roots to still be beloved, and not far enough in to the mainstream to make a lasting impact, was his first full-length record. It was called The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager, which in 2013 is a fucking horrendous name, but when it finally came out in 2006 seemed to signify something more, and it was ace. Sure, yeah, the idea of the staunchly anti-capitalist/anti-mainstream etc. songs coming out on fuckin’ Atlantic records was a little bit nauseating, but you know what? Sam worked hard, and he earned it. And he did make a fucking class record. The laptop beats from his first EP and his live shows were still there, bubbling away in the background, but it was drenched in horns and strings and stuff too – a young Luke “Guns” Leighfield rocked out on the violin in a way he wouldn’t surpass in terms of pure rocking out until the absolutely ridiculous guitar solo on Have You Got Heart.
The slicker production values that squashed some of the original EP versions’ charms don’t seem like such a crime with seven years of hindsight, especially when held up next to his second full-length which legitimately only had one good song on it. It’s not raw, but it’s not as overly polished as it felt at the time. Despite the fact that it was released to fairly middling and dismissive reviews, it’s just flawless acoustic pop, with some cool electronic beats, a little bit of folk-punk force and attitude, and the occasional jazzy numbers which totally aren’t as annoying anymore. As a record, it’s aged surprisingly well, and stands up a lot better away from the confused sense of pride and loss that hung over it back then. Although Get Cape at his best will always be rooted in a specific scene and time, the shit he’s singing about is fairly universal – I guess it only goes to show how vaguely unhappy young men have been writing essentially the same songs since the goddamn dawn of time.