Album Review: Zoey Van Goey – The Cage Was Unlocked All Along

Who is Zoey Van Goey? According to the band, who are still trying to locate her, she’s a Pennsylvanian Amish girl who got involved in the 1980s Manhattan street art movement, later moving to Berlin, and then disappearing after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now, with inspired backstories such as this, you’d think they’d have little imagination and creativity left for an album. This is definitely not the case.

Dreamy ocean soundscapes fuel their debut, The Cage Was Unlocked All Along, which comes in at just over thirty minutes. It tells stories about bandits and treasure, and being huddled under covers with torches while rain beats down on the roof. The LP mixes sweet sentiments with dark undertones, akin to old fairy tales. The tracks themselves feature calm, quieter introductions leading to loud, rousing choruses, filled with innovative percussion and crisp production.

The opening track ‘The Best Treasure Stays Buried’ begs to be listened to on headphones, with its subtle string scratching layered with bare sustained guitar and bleak, pretty vocals. ‘We Don’t Have That Kind Of Bread’ is a romantic kidnap ballad filled with energetic drumming and playful dual vocals, while the heartfelt bedtime piece ‘Sweethearts In Disguise’ delicately ponders what happens ‘when the stars explode’. The delightfully apt ‘Two White Ghosts’ details the oft-taken route of graduates, teaching English in Japan. Its haunting, isolated keyboards awash with quiet distorted guitars fittingly encapsulate the otherworldly ‘strange island’.

Although the majority of the album is led by Kim Moore’s airy vocals, ‘We All Hid In Basements’, with its eloquent musings on the apocalypse, allows Matt Brennan to take the lead. His rougher singing voice alongside the pulsating drumbeat and twitchy guitar and piano works brilliantly, while almost inaudible Mario sound effects pepper the verses. 

This Glasgow-based three piece offer a whimsical take on youth and experience, with punchy lyrics set to a lively array of instruments. The faint impression of bands such as Stars, The Delgados and Belle & Sebastian might be apparent, but they very much make the music their own.

Words: Jason Williamson