I remember as a sixteen year old, my English teacher asking the class to write a story with whatever came into our heads first. Perhaps this was an honest lesson in creative writing; far more likely, however, was that it was a venture in to the minds of a teenager. Maybe it was to establish why teenage boys were so intent on making each other bleed, or why the girls would discuss a feud with every last member of the school, before raising the issue with the offending party. Presumably the boys and girls of The Kabeedies followed a similar curriculum to my own, but instead of handing this wildly nonsensical plot in to be comb-picked by school inspectors with top hats and handlebar moustaches, the Norwich four-piece turned it in to an album and – Hey Presto! – we have Rumpus.
The band appears to be like a long lost relative to much of the ‘art school indie’ scene that is prevalent today, except while others seem caught up in sequins and eccentric hair styles, The Kabeedies would rather be painting each others faces and sticking Prit Stick up their respective noses.
The album begins with ‘Fuzzy Felt’, combining retro style instrumentals with sing-a-long vocals. The bubbly style of the opening track blends into the second, ‘Lovers Ought To’, rather naturally, but it is here where the cracks within the album begin to open up. By the third track you are already beginning to get a sense of deja vu and there is a notable lack of variety as the record progresses. Track four comes in the shape of ‘Petit Filous’ which is the weakest on the album so far and makes no effort to change the direction or mood whatsoever. ‘We Make Our Own Adventures’ finally manages to find a compromise between the catchy, immature spirit that the band are seeking and a intensely catchy tune. Possibly the most creative and inspiring track through out the course of the album, and without any cringe inducing lyrics that had laced previous tracks.
By the time ‘Apple’ comes around you do begin to understand why the band are seeing such popularity. There is so much that is good with this track, it’s fantastically catchy and will have anybody up dancing.
Alas, there is a sense of naivety within the record as a whole, you desperately want the next track to give you something a bit different but by the end of every introduction you already know what’s in store. This is until ‘Petroleum Jelly’ comes along and slows the whole operation down. A welcome simmer from the boiling pace that had led us here, the track epitomises the band as very much a love or hate entity. The lyrics “Soft like petroleum jelly, my heart sank to my belly” show us the band can even out do themselves in nonsensical lyrics, but like pingoo, you don’t have to understand something to love it, right?
‘King Canute’ is another one of the tracks that holds the album’s head above water. Galloping along, the track relies on less in the way of depth to achieve more in the way of pleasing material.
The penultimate track of the album is ‘Treasure Hunting’. Without attempting to break free from the cast iron mould that surrounds the record, the track will be, to those whom the album does grab, a major reason why.
The album is rounded off by the cleverly titled ‘Jitterbug’. A more mature effort than the majority of the record but lacking in that hook that splits the quality of the track list into night and day.
For all its flaws and naivety on one hand, it’s very difficult to dislike Rumpus. Any album that makes you want to leave your nine to five, go outside, and chase pigeons will always have a place in anyone’s heart. As much as you may feel the album does not go anywhere, you will have no qualms about returning to the start of the album and going nowhere all over again. The record won’t send you on a musical journey but that really never appears to be the intention in the first place.