Where they need to be

Brad Craig and Isaac McFarlane of Two Cartoons relax in London. Photo supplied.
Brad Craig and Isaac McFarlane of Two Cartoons relax in London. Photo supplied.
Fourteen months ago, at the request of their label Far South Records, Dunedin indie pop band Two Cartoons made the move to London.

Since then, the duo of Isaac McFarlane and Brad Craig have spent their time ''getting sucked into England'', trying to establish themselves in the heavily populated London music scene, and readying and recording songs for a forthcoming album, and a brand-new EP called Lost Boys Club to be released on March 17.

On the titular track released last week, McFarlane ecstatically throws his personality-buoyed voice into some lines seemingly about their new London home.

''We're free exactly where we need to be,'' he sings.

''We're stuck here, we'll thrive here ...''

And checking in with the band, Skyping over a 13-hour time difference from a wet, early Dunedin summer morning to a late-night warehouse party at Craig's, the two lost New Zealand boys seem content and settled, the clean slate letting them grow both as artists and as people.

''It's going kind of well, which is really nice and really confusing,'' McFarlane said.

''Things with Far South have been great. It's not like a big boss dog just telling us what to do. We're all just trying to find our own way, which is cool. Once you see the back end of trying to make something like this work, you realise just how much goes into it.''

That back-end work includes the label doing digital promo for the EP on services such as Spotify, where that day the EP's first single Horizon Approaching, a building and plaintive look at the potential futures that hurtle towards us all, had just passed 120,000 plays.

It's a track that feels extremely fitting for a first overseas single: not only does it address the changes in the band's life, it also shows off a new musical direction for the pair.

It's an intricate and studio-layered (the first time the band has had a bass guitar on a recording for example) song, deeper sounding than the intentionally simpler, stone age garage-rock songwriting of their prior two New Zealand releases.

The early influences of happy surf and sunshine bands such as Best Coast and the Drums has turned into a LCD Soundsystem meets Vampire Weekend clash of alternative dance pop.

''Two of the EP songs are from the time we went to record in Thailand, where we wrote Horizon and Harry Actually,'' McFarlane said.

''Getting Green and Lost Boys Club were done here over summer, at Urchin Studios, the studio owned by Laura Marling's drummer. It's 'Hey, we're still alive' music.''

Of course, the band still thinks about Dunedin: missing family, friends, and local music constantly.

''I can't wait to go back, first and foremost,'' Craig said.

''I miss Dunedin.''

McFarlane continues.

''London is London. The part where we work and live, Hackney Wick, is amazing but basically just because it's Dunedin, but everyone is 10 years older and it's in London. Everyone's on the same page.

''We're in London's creative ghetto.''

They're lost, exactly where they need to be.

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