With a sound that is stuck somewhere between early The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys and disgruntled British garage rock, The Curious Incident have carved out a rather select niche for themselves in the British and South African music scenes. It is an interesting case, seeing as they are a band that is more popular in South Africa than they are in their own home country, but I guess in a scene that practically created indie rock bands – it is difficult to break through into the mainstream eye.
Nevertheless, The Curious Incident have made themselves a name in their own indie, joining their slightly rowdy noise-pop contemporaries Johnny Foreigner in being one of the few underground UK bands to often tour the South African club scene. It is no surprise that this has happened. Their humble indie rock sound is the staple sound of the majority of popular South Africa –except The Curious Incident panders more towards the alternative Brit-pop sound with catchy four chord riffs and a foot-stomping offbeat tempo.
Their new EP, Penny Lonesome, is a cheeky four track EP that is a gentle frolic in the delicate fields of infectious Brit-pop and delightfully catchy and upbeat indie pop, with gentle hints of gritty garage rock bristling from behind wafts of sickly sweet pop rock chord progression. In the general sense of originality, The Curious Incident are really nothing new. Bands like them are as common as a white girl in a Starbucks, or hipsters at an Arcade Fire show. The defining factor in The Curious Incident being a good band is that they know their sound is common, but they don’t bother with hiding it behind desperate attempts to sound unique. Their strength is in understanding that they are practically a very underground pop rock band.
Penny Lonesome is clear evidence of this. They’re pop rock done in the most intelligent way possible. Their lyrics don’t adhere to necessarily stereotypical lyrical themes, yet their song structure is catchy enough to allow them to infiltrate the steady stream of basely unintelligent pop music that finds its way onto the radio. For instance, their lead single “Money” actually pokes fun at a lot of these artists who just tend to follow the money, or rather the wealthy pop artists that act as if they don’t make music to make money – which is most likely a lie. “Diane” rolls out with the school-time crush that develops into being the high school sweetheart marriage – all done to an incredibly upbeat tune. “Please Don’t Stay” hits you with a very polite way of telling someone to shut up when they’re getting on your nerves, and “The Hunt” hits you with a lasting feeling of intense happiness.
There is no doubt that The Curious Incident deserve a little more recognition than they receive, but alas – their faces are not prettier enough nor are they winners of a talent show that happened to win a pretty sweet record deal. The only thing The Curious Incident can do is make more music, and hope that their pennies become less lonesome.