Album review: Calva Louise – Rhinoceros

PUBLISHED: 10:44 31 January 2019

The album cover for Rhinoceros by Calva Louise.

The album cover for Rhinoceros by Calva Louise.


Tri-continental punk-rock trio show a bit of imagination can go a long way on this fizzing debut.

Rhinoceros refers to the classic 1959 absurdist drama by Eugène Ionesco, which poked at the irrational, ugly but instinctual motives at the heart of the human condition.

A curious choice for a bunch of brash punk-rock upstarts perhaps – but this young, international trio have interpreted it through their experience of feeling societal pressure to ‘fit in’ in a rapidly polarising world – then deciding to rebel instead in punky, fizzing abandon.

Together this part-Venezuelan, part-Mãori, part-English band spit out 10 short, sharp, punk-rock nuggets that are disposable and fun in the true punk sense.

Opening gambit and recent single I Heard A Cry introduces singer Jess Allanic’s lively, ever-so-slightly nasal vocals and a simple but infectious guitar riff that sweeps you into their sweaty, fist-pumping aural moshpit. Clattering drums, cooing backing vocals and fizzing, effects-pedal guitar combine in a little over two-minutes of poppy, punk-rock pleasure.

The energy is carried through in a clutch of propulsive, exciting and restless songs each anchored to a simple melodic seabed, then tossed about on choppy detours of changing time signatures and asides to keep you guessing – Getting Closer, for example, skips along on a Dolly Mixture riff before Allanic lets rip with a throat-shredding scream over thunderous drums.

And No Hey flirts with the sunnier shores of hip-hop, Allanic dropping great wads of Spanish verse on a simple whistled riff, synth-style guitar and loping drums.

There’s enough here to mark Calva Louise out from the crowd – the glut of ideas and up-front presentation are both polished enough for broad appeal, the band using them to twist familiar pop-punk tropes into interesting shapes while keeping it all brattishly fun.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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