Review Summary: Finding a crowd-pleasing middle ground results in a promising debut.
Riding a fine line in attempting to incorporate every single genre imaginable (except metal, of course), the debut LP by Sydney quartet Cassette Kids does eventually find a crowd-pleasing middle ground. The listener immediately knows exactly what they are in for, since arresting synth stabs, jangly melodies, a pronounced bass-line and the polished female vocals of Katrina Noorbergen kick-starts excellent opener ‘Insomnia’. The cut also suggests a maturity beyond the band’s years, as they show a controlled manner in not entirely relying on the songs catchy chorus… No matter how addictive it is. And there are indeed a number of anthemic choruses evident on ‘Nothing on TV’; from lead single ‘Lying Around’ and the very recitable ‘Game Player’, all the way through to album highlight ‘Spin’.
Depending on if you prefer your glass half empty or half full, a few too many tracks either rely on a sole hook, or there is something to like in practically every song. There are no real stinkers here, but Cassette Kids have yet to perfect the extremities of their sound, whether it be the subtleties of a gentler cut (‘Coming Back’ & ‘Fatal Attraction’) or the eccentricities of an electro club banger (pretty much every track threatens to break out into one). Probably the main issue at play is the fact that ‘Nothing on TV’ stretches out to 14 tracks and 50 minutes, clearly spreading its strongest elements too thin by the time 11th track ‘Hey Baby’ passes on by. There is some variety attempted in snippets via a spoken word breakdown (‘Big Jerk’), heavily distorted vocals (the almost industrial influenced title track) and some quiet/loud dynamics (‘Wherever You Are’), but most of it ultimately feels a little unnatural.
Indie, post-punk, electro, rock, etc, etc, etc… There are elements of all of these genres evident on ‘Nothing on TV’. Predictably, it is not the most original offering you are likely to hear all year, since it borrows a little from here and a little from there, eventually falling somewhere in between a less ambitious Yeah Yeah Yeahs and a nowhere near as annoying version of The Ting Tings. What fundamentally makes Cassette Kids’ debut full-length release a winner however, is some good old-fashioned pop sensibilities. With the help of Van She’s Michael DiFrancesco on production duties, these kids know their way around a bright, infectious and energetic hook. At the very least, that results in a promising debut.
Recommended Tracks: Spin, Insomnia, Game Player & Lying Around.