A statement that’s likely a common consensus is to say that energy and enthusiasm are good in music. They’re infectious qualities that spectators can feed off of and that can help hook a new audience in. It creates, if not breeds likeability; it’s easy to watch a band dash about stage switching instruments, yelping every word like they’re kids at birthday party overdosed on chocolate cake. All it takes is a pair of people to start moving and shaking between the unoccupied chairs of an otherwise empty bar for a whole group to be suddenly dancing about like the weekend arrived a few days early.
With ten members in tow, Edinburgh-based Victorian Trout Conspiracy has plenty of the initially mentioned qualities to spare.Their self-titled debut EP exudes a lot of joy, chirpiness, and silliness over five songs; arguably it simply has too much. Most EPs serve as an advertisement of sorts, showing you what an act has to offer, and ideally tantalizing you into wanting more; you’ll listen over and over, happy, but not entirely satisfied until they drop a fully realised album. Victorian Trout Conspiracy does something plenty of albums have done to me, but few EPs have: it wears me out quickly.
Listening is fun, if not quite as fun as partaking in their live shows (which can range from just one member to the full ten), but like a hung-over adult trying to deal with an child on a sugar rush, patience can soon wear thin, occasionally starting to cause a headache because of too much enthusiasm. “Super Dooper Electric Scooter” is the slowest cut here, but it’s still full on, running at about 140bpm with the band shouting the song’s title amid evil laughs and howls; guitars and bass slide about like bike chains in motion as brass comes from all directions – all that without even getting to the thickly-accented spoken word section in the middle.
It’d be nice if the band stripped back here, even for the duration of one full song, and there’s a glimpse of what could be during the reggae rhythms at the opening of “All My Days,” but the track soon shoots for the sky and seems to triple the tempo in an instant. With ten members though, scaling things back isn’t really a viable thing to expect on an EP, as everyone’s out to impress and showcase their talents. But listening through the nineteen minutes of music here can be exhausting, even when it’s just on in the background, and I can’t but suddenly want to point out the importance of restraint as a talent too.
Still, fun is fun, and unable to deny them, Victorian Trout Conspiracy are that. “All My Days” tires itself out with a sing-along section about a “Jack Daniels fire brigade” while closing track “Can He Really Imitate Swans?” has the brass firing on all cylinders, like the band are in a cartoon chase sequence, playing their instruments as they’re running away. It’s opening track “Ciderbam” that’s the real clincher here: after a dramatic opening of rippling guitars, ridden cymbals, and mariachi stand-off horns, the band punch out a riff that’s essentially the classic Spiderman theme song done in a style that’s something like Madness from the 80s doing speed with Employment-era Kaiser Chiefs. You’ll either laugh it off and just fall into the absurdity, or find yourself standoffish about the whole set up. If you’re not sold on those first few bars, or the rich Scottish accents (complete with plenty of local references and cheeky digs in the lyrics), then you’re probably not going to care to spend time with Victorian Trout Conspiracy. But I mean, just look at that name; you should have some idea as to what you’re getting yourself into from that alone.