Album Review: Calva Louise – Rhinoceros

Three individuals originating from total opposite parts of the world unite to express their talent of music, their name, Calva Louise. Formed in London, now located in Manchester, is Venezuelan, Jess Allanic (lead vocalist & guitarist) French, Alizon Taho (backing vocals and bassist) and New Zealander, Ben Parker (drums).

Fresh from recent tours with Strange Bones, Hunter and the Bear and The Blinders in 2018 along with festival slots at Liverpool Sound City, Truck Festival and Isle of Weight, Calva Louise release their debut album Rhinoceros on Modern Sky Records (The Blinders, The Slow Readers Club, Spinn). Named after Eugène Ionesco’s play “Rhinoceros”, a childhood favourite of Allanic and Taho since teenage years, the play suggests how as individuals we should not be influenced by those around us; the rhinoceros is about the path of self-adventure.  

Kicking off the album with a string of singles, ‘I Heard A Cry (IHAC)’ shows Allanic’s mighty vocals through passionate screams complimented by chaotic noisy drums behind her. The track is a mighty opener for the album; full of energy and vibrance which carries on through the record. Following on, the band’s first single ‘I’m Gonna Do Well’ – previously released on 7″ through Flying Vinyl. The track not only is the closing song for their live shows, but it sums up how unique as a band they are; they create such a perfect sound through a whole variety of vibes – from a soft style of pop to Allanic screaming through Parkers drum beats. The re-recording of the previously released single is absolutely insane, hands down to the band but also producer Margo Broom (Fat White Family, Goat Girl) and mixer Tom Longworth (Catholic Action, The Vryll Society). 

‘Tug Of War’ and ‘Outrageous’ are the two singles released in anticipation of the record (along with ‘I Heard A Cry’). The former is a 90’s style rebellious punk/pop song focusing on pain through love; “Please just let me out, I need to break free”. The latter ‘Outrageous’ is a heavy punk anthem and a stand out of their live shows, Taho’s bass and Parkers drum coordination lead the song directly, sounding tight beyond their years as a band while also proving how much of a fun band they are – live and on record.

Full of pop hooks “woo hoo’s” and rioting guitar riffs, ‘Getting Closer’ is all about the suffering of growing up, quite ironically track listed after ‘No Hay’. Lyrical truths such as “I thought it was reality trying to keep me sane” truly make you think about how precious time is, particularly the time enjoyed in childhood compared to the adult struggles society provides.

The final 4 songs on the record are all previously unreleased, although if you have been lucky enough to see the trio live, you may have already clocked up memories with “Wondertale’ and ‘Cruel Girl’. Calva Louise’s live atmosphere during these songs always brings the band and crowd together as one, as though we’ve all known each other all our lives. Allanic and Taho come together during the opening riff and whilst bouncing around stage, with Parker joining in a few moments later, its like a fantasy, definitely highlighting Allanic’s guitar skills on the record.

Rhinoceros is extremely captivating yet difficult to pinpoint – bringing together elements of pop, punk, indie rock, surf rock and grunge. The trio have worked their way up from becoming London’s best new band with anticipation from the likes of This Feeling, Abbie Mccarthy (Radio 1) and Steve Lamacq (BBC Radio 6). Along with the album itself, singer Jess Allanic has also accompanied the album with its own comic book, made by herself, including 104 pages!

Calva Louise’s album “Rhinoceros” is out 1st February 2019 on Modern Sky Records. Pre-order here