Quietly rocking

Those freaky-deaky psychopathically-psychedelic circus-rockers, 12 Stone Toddler are back hot on the heels of their debut album, ‘Does It Scare You?’ with their awkward second album, ‘Scheming’. Now if you’ve not heard of the Brighton band before then what you get is a band that love to entertain. There is a complex campness in the showmanship, and tunes with unexpected hooks, and a kaleidoscopic mix of genres…

First song, ‘Batten Down The Hatches’ has a majestic tinkle of melodic pianos and a gentle verse, before the deep guitar kicks in and the complementary high keyboards giving us a nice catchy mix of Indie-Rock-Pop. However in, ‘The Suit’ we have a simple arrangement of a mid-tempo song that plays innocently even with the ghost whine background, with the band’s trademark big chorus. A fantastic song. Then in the first single, ‘Under The Weather’ we have the best use of the voicebox for rhythm since The Flying Pickets and the House Martins.

The great thing about the band is that whilst the first few songs border on a theatrical-indie, - and you may not be far from the mark if you took a handful of Scissor Sister’s tunes and gave them more balls, making them more rock instead of pop, they have songs like, ‘Drowning A Witch’ that you really think that the band’s muse is in need of a straightjacket. I’ll say no more although on the band’s first album they had a song about balloons that sounded like bizarre gypsy rockers Gogol Bordello… 'Kick Me A Little Bit’ is a slow and gentle song that builds epically at points.

I can’t help but think of Soundgarden in the verses even if it’s down to singer Chris Otero’s voice in, ‘Broken Hearts & Battle Scars’ whereby he sings, “Do you want it? // Do you really, really want it?” The poetic plod of ‘Apple From The Tallest Tree’ is welcoming, showcasing some wonderful lyrics. Then ‘Death In The Zoo’ could be a song in a stage production…but better.

In the album title song, ‘Scheming’ we once again have a fine example of what the band are all about. The verses are gentle with a rhythm sound from what sounds like an accordion in a European flamboyance, that builds into a theatrical chorus that is slightly side-show-esque with the words, “With you at the door // I thought you were knocking, I couldn’t be sure // ooom-bop // With you at the door // I thought you were knocking, I couldn’t be sure // ooom-bop // I sit on the floor // Quietly rocking, you’ve seen it before // I sit on the floor // Quietly rocking, you’ve seen it before…” Lovely… Then ther are some eerie ‘Good Vibrations’ high background whines in the mix and match of, ‘(It) Was Such A Beautiful Thing’.

In ‘Autumn Song’ we have a song that could’ve been sung by Frank Sinatra, albeit it is high in places, but is a timeless slow number that could have been in the 1920’s, 1950’s, 1970’s or last week. It’s not my cup of tea as a song, but is done so well that you have to tip your proverbial. Then much rum must’ve been drunk whilst the consummation of last song, ‘Seasick’. A song filled with tales of the seven seas, buried treasure and the such like with music likened to some of Alice Cooper’s drunken moments from the 1970’s. A fitting finish.

12 Stone Toddler are a band that will pass over most people in England as the sound is something that we have trouble trying to comprehend. They are flamboyant, theatrical, poetic, entertaining, original and hugely talented. This album is just as good as their brilliant debut. What more can you say? Brilliant.