An enticing mix of sensual, reverb-drenched guitars and edgy, rhythmic art-pop, Belfast-based Yes Cadets feature singer/guitarist Alan Haslam, singer/ drummer Lisa Mageean and bassist Steven Matthews. The trio began playing together in 2009, crafting a distinctive sound inspired by everyone from LCD Soundsystem and The Knife to The Cure and My Bloody Valentine. They rapidly gained buzz for their magnetic live performance, earning high profile festival slots across Europe (Glastonbury, MiDEM, Berlin Festival) and support slots with luminaries The Antlers, Yuck and Guillemots.
An early, home recorded version of the Yes Cadets track ‘Le Mans’ was picked up by the BBC and soon playlisted on daytime Radio 1. Brimming with atmospheric pop hooks and pulsing cinematic lament ‘Le Mans’ made waves amongst the indie-pop blogosphere and the mainstream music press alike whilst still only in raw demo form.
Yes Cadets might hail from Belfast, in Northern Ireland, but what brought them together was an obsession with Canadian indie music, which embraces quirky melodies and edgy rhythms. The trio, singer/guitarist Alan Haslam, singer/drummer Lisa Mageean, and bassist Steven Matthews, first began playing together in 2009, and their first home-recorded demo, “Charm Offensive”, received airplay across UK radio stations. 2012 sees the release of their EP Le Mans, a five-track offering that showcases their affinity for art-pop and reverb-y guitars, a sound (dubbed “maximist heartbreak pop” on the band’s Facebook page) drawing from influences like The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, and LCD Soundsystem.
The EP’s first and title track takes its name from a city in France, the capital of the province of Maine. It features breathy, rhythmic singing, militaristic snare drum beats, and angular guitar picking. Mageean and Haslam share vocal duties; hers sounding like an ethereal forest creature and his evoking a sense of yearning on lines like “there is a place where my heart meets yours” and repetitions of “it was never over.”
“River Runs Dry” (perhaps a reference to the Sarthe River in the City of Le Mans?) has more of a cool, surf-rock vibe with the reverberated guitars and rolling bass drum beat, while “French Kiss” continues the the French theme and has Haslam reaching the upper echelons of his register on the line, “do you wanna start something/from nothing?”
With its tropical rhythm and melody, “Seconds in a Minute” is a welcome ray of sunshine on the EP. It’s also accompanied by a fantastic music video which evokes memories of first love, showing a young boy and girl bonding over music and proving the band’s message of “you don’t have to be alone.”
Winding down the EP is “Harrier”, a song that encompasses feelings of escapism (“take me up and away from/everything and everyone”)--and appropriately so, as a Harrier is a type of jet aircraft. With their sharp, glistening melodies, Yes Cadets prove that good music is just as likely to come from Northern Ireland as it is Canada.