Home > TheRest > Cradle of Smurf – S/T

Cradle of Smurf – S/T

Tes Fesses Records, 2007

Well, of course I am picking up an album by a band named Cradle of Smurf.  But the group also helps with that long time hipster difficulty of taste entrapment.  Ever been asked “Hey, do you like Cradle of Filth?”.  It’s a tough question.  If you say that yes, you do like the symphonic death metal band you know you’re going to get sucker punched with “Oh really?  What is your favorite album by them?”  Trapped!  However, if you say no, then the Cradle of Filth fan scoffs at you and says “Of course, you look too wussy to like symphonic death metal.”  Trapped again!  But now you have an out.  If someone asks you if you like Cradle of Filth all you need to do is look knowingly distracted and say “Mmmm, they’re not as good as Cradle of Smurf.”  Not only do you flout the question asked of you, but you now put the other person on the defensive because they have no idea who Cradle of Smurf is!  OH YEAH!  Hipster high five!  Just hope that this Cradle of Filth fan doesn’t read this review, otherwise you may get slapped by a spiked glove because the jig will be up.

The maelstrom of colors and shapes that highlight the album’s cover is not a bad representation of the electronic music Cradle of Smurf composes.  The French duo (one of whom consists of Julie Normal if my research serves me right) deliver mostly poppy electronic songs with quite a few instances of noise and bleeps.  If you listen to these songs repeatedly to let them soak in, those sudden bursts of static nonsense fit in nicely with the flow of the tune.  For instance, “Akai to Aoi” is an upbeat track that begins the album but one can immediately hear the screeching pops that are thrown in periodically.  It doesn’t matter, as they mostly add texture to a song that might sound too bland on its own.  Normal’s voice sort of drones on amidst the light beats, but it’s mainly used as an excuse for lyrics more than a critical part of the song.

While I’m on the topic, if you prefer singing with your electronic music, you can forget it with Cradles of Smurf.  Most songs have no lyrics of any kind, but when there are vocals one almost wishes they just stuck to instrumentals.  For instance, on the group’s cover of Beat Happening’s “Look Around” Normal’s vocals are hard to hear because they are mumbled and wispy.  That may not be such a bad thing to some ears, for it’s not like Calvin Johnson was any kind of Pavarotti.  Thankfully the keyboards keep the song true to form, which also makes it clear that the band probably prefers to stick to its strengths.  Melodically fuzzy songs like “La Mort Du Pape” and lo-fi dance anthems like “Bachir” show that no matter what Cradle of Smurf try, their keyboard skills can craft some pretty good songs.

Just as I was to write this album off as just another experimental electronic record by a French duo (such a long list, monsieur!) out pops “Tokyo Song”.  Man, this tune has got the ability to get the indie dance floor packed!  It’s got a general dance beat and light intro, but then the keyboard that sounds like that Japanese stringed instrument sound (think samurai movie) weaves effortlessly into the tempo.  Finally, a sensitive tone sparsely adds to the composition yet makes it complete.  Of course, the end of the song devolves into a confusion of noises, but the impression was very strong.  Easily the best song on the record for me.

Cradle of Smurf have quite a few songs that aren’t on this album on MySpace, but maybe the recorded live experience (Youtube) is more for you.  Even this guy recommends you bring your goat to the dance floor.

If I am reading Julie Normal’s discography correctly, there were only 500 copies made of this Cradle of Smurf disc.  Am I a lucky man?  I suppose so, especially thanks to that “Tokyo Song”.  However, it’s going to be tough for other people to find this disc kicking around a dollar bin, so maybe it’s the mp3 route you need to go.  It certainly won’t likely be the live show route, for it seems that this side project ended around 2008.  Although Cradle of Smurf may be finished, they still provide hot argument material in the long running Cradle of Filth versus Cradle of Smurf debate!

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