Top critical review
Cub your enthusiasm
on 4 February 2008
From the wistful picture of the beach on the front cover to the first jangle of guitars on opening track 'Rocked out', you could be forgiven for thinking that Cubworld belongs to that growing pack of laconic western troubadors who are as likely to go for a surf as they are to sing you a song.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Jake Kongaika's songs, whilst seemingly chilled out and happy on the surface, fortunately lack the saccarine lyrics of Jack Johnson. 'I just can't handle/everything you're throwing at me...Bloodstained promises/I don't know who you think you are' he sings on opener 'Rocked out', yep - here is a fellah with a genuine gift for the message behind the song as well as crafting catchy pop tunes to play them against.
Some of his lyrical content at times, much like his youthful pop vocal, needs the benefit of experience and time to come to fruition. But that is what is exciting about emerging talent like Cubworld, because you can see that he has bags of potential.
As well as the jangly guitar pop fare, we range through beautiful piano ballads ('For Love'), Anthemic Indie rock that you would not be surprised to hear on a Snow Patrol album ('Lights Fade') and then the Hip-hop flavoured 'Wise words'....which unfortunately is where it all goes a bit wrong for me.
I can appreciate what the artist is trying to do here, and no doubt it will be a summer smash, but the people who buy this as a single would largely not appreciate the rest of the album. It sounds like the Chilli Peppers' Anthony Kiedis after a night out with Gwen Steffani. Which is all great, but then we get the obligatory rap in there which really overcooks things. It also narrows the demographic somewhat to the 15-25 crowd.
At first I wasn't hearing a single, but after a few good listens the excellent 'Lights Fade' has to be my vote - it will appeal to the indie crowd this side of the Atlantic as well as in the Americas.
The whole album lasts just under 40 mins, which is perfect for a debut like this, and Cubworld has done a good job of showing off a range of his styles and influences. The drawbacks may just be that instead of widening his appeal that it alienates some of his potential audiences. The 'less is more' approach might have been better to begin with.
All in all, a very nice little album, and I have more than a feeling that we'll be hearing his name mentioned in the same breath as Johnson, Ben Harper very soon.