Leaving the indie scene, guitars and past bands behind, former Zutons frontman Dave McCabe has returned with new album Church Of Miami, under the moniker Dave McCabe & The Ramifications. Shrugging off the industry that held little interest for him, and also one that so brutally raised him up before negligently casting him aside, McCabe brought together friends to write and record for Church Of Miami. Growing up listening to new wave classics like Depeche Mode and the Human League, and fed Kraftwerk by his brother at an early age, the idea of making an electro inspired record was something McCabe was into even his Zuton days. But with little experience writing for electronic instrumentation, McCabe collaborated with friends to transpose his ideas into new mediums.
That admission and collaborative effort has paid off: there is a freshness to Church Of Miami. The album pulsates with programmed beats and clunky synths, and effects are used sparingly as accents leaving plenty of breathing space. Definitely channelling new wave in tracks like Too Damn Good with its driving pace, the lack of shimmery synth washes is refreshing, focusing more on 8-bit style sounds. Funk rhythms creep into Trust Me; it’s a bit like a dance floor version of the hypnotic Jungle Book tune.
Anyone who was a fan of The Zutons will have had a sense of McCabe’s interest in comic books, with nods like album title Who Killed…… The Zutons? And on Church Of Miami he has once again played the idea of a concept album. Written around the idea of a man who rebuilds a robot, only to discover he hates everything of himself that he recognises in his creation. Perhaps fortunately, the album doesn’t exactly hit you over the head with the narrative. But it does add another interesting layer to the release, and one which feels at home with what we know of McCabe.
And with such a recognisable vocal, it would be impossible to completely divorce McCabe from his hits with The Zutons. And to his credit, Church Of Miami doesn’t completely shun indie elements. Some tracks in particular nod to the old days, the chorus melodies on Intertwine are definitely reminiscent of Havana Gang Brawl, off The Zutons’ debut release. And final track Servant To His Master features a slow beat and acoustic guitar, spiralling into some nice tripped out effects – potentially the most psychedelic moment on the release.
As McCabe himself has stated, it may not be the peak of his song writing – but Church Of Miami is most definitely a strong entry from an indie original making a foray into new territory.