The five members of the band Cardinals
Credit: @alisfavouritefilms

Cardinals – Cardinals (So Young Recordings)

Cardinals have released their debut self-titled EP on So Young Recordings. The 5-piece from Cork, Ireland have generated a stir around their live performances and a handful of singles. They have just finished their debut headline tour in the UK and Ireland.

The 6-track EP opens with ‘Twist and Turn’ all atmospheric guitars and a vocal full of emotion. The crashing drums soon kick in and the track continues its ebb and flow between loud and calm, until that ever so quiet short blast of static on the outro which seems to lead sonically into‘Unreal’. The second track picks up the pace, a prolonged static start heading into vibe which is unashamedly pop influenced, albeit with an edge dropped in here and there.  Those blasts of feedback within the melody, particularly at the end, show that Cardinals are happy to mix it up with impressive results.

‘Roseland’  was the first single from the EP. It’s the name of a ballroom in New York City and brings in a more folk tinged hue to their music so far. Cardinals include accordion player Finn Manning and on ‘Roseland‘ he is given room to shine. What a beautiful track, the thread that seems to run through this EP is one of love and loss, of relationships in all their complexities, especially when young. The lyrics are expressive creating an imagery which stays long after the song has ended:
“I went down to MacCurtain Street Station.
Where I first said my last goodbye.
If love was there, it was thin in the air –
It only came here to die.

‘Amphetamines’  takes yet another shift, the distorted vocals, urgent guitars, and drums at the forefront creating a track full of anxiety and tension, perhaps reflecting the pressures and challenges of youth. It’s a striking soundscape, slightly darker with its raw edges and not altogether clear vocals. It builds chaos but the expected drop doesn’t happen. Lead singer Euan Manning has shared the following about the EP as a whole:
It’s a collection of songs that were written when we were living and playing in Cork City. It’s pop music at its core, personal, youthful, and, if you can see past the chaos and noise it’s extremely warm. There’s a narrative if you’ve got the heart to look for it.”

At sub-two minutes in duration‘Nineteen’ proves the rule that less is absolutely more.  Demonstrating a more tenacious side it’s crisp and sharp. “If there’s one thing I wouldn’t do is take off my skin for you.”  what a great line, succinct and to the point.  ‘Nineteen’ seems to present a more self-assured narrative, and thus is perfectly placed towards the end of the EP. The closing track is ‘If I Could Make You Care’, a heartfelt song, which expresses the challenges of relationships both in the lyrics and the instrumentation. The frustrations soar and fall, chaos and calm reflecting changing emotions. And to end with a question really says it all, the uncertainty we can all feel in life.

Cardinals are completed by Oskar Gudinovic (guitar), Aaron Hurley (bass) and Darragh Manning (drums) and together they have produced a debut full of depth and variation. Their sound blends various influences including gothic shoegaze, Irish trad folk, indie guitar, and hints of pop. This EP proves that they can do this with great success, using their own recipe to create something a little different from the current norms.

For more information on Cardinals please check out their facebook and instagram.

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