Review Summary: The perfect blend of Intricacy and Immediacy.
This debut album by Irish four piece The Cast Of Cheers instantly feels like a breath of fresh air in these times of instant music and the desperate attempts from music critics to label bands and try to find ‘the next big thing’. Undoubtedly this album benefits from the culture just explained, as this album was self released as a download from their Bandcamp site, for free, which is nice. The way in which I obtained this album meant that I had a very small amount of knowledge about the band and really had no expectations before listening to it. This fact meant that when I clicked play on ITunes I was instantly blown away by the sound and feel of this amazing album.
The first impressions that are given off by this record is that this band is musically very, very tight and from the first listen I recognized these impossibly catchy nuggets of skewed rock as something different and something I knew I would grow to love. Luckily there are not too many influences on show here that I can think of off the top of my head, the sound they create is similar to some of the ‘math rock’ groups that are currently enjoying some recognition no doubt helped by crossover successes Foals and to a lesser extent Everything Everything. Although their grooves and punchy, looped riffs remind me of another of my favourite new bands, Tall Ships, more than the former bands. The thing that really puts The Cast of Cheers in another field to these other bands is that they are not po-faced at all (I’m looking at you foals) the music they make is earnest and relatable they don’t add anything to give an outward look of being superior and no second is wasted on this record, it captivates the listener for just over thirty minutes and when it is over the only thing to do is hit repeat.
The signature sound of this band is intricately looped, clean guitar lines often with added effects to create a more dense sound, these guitar lines at the front of the mix are supported by an extremely tight rhythm section that churns out beautiful grooves that the songs mould themselves around effortlessly. Everything sounds calculated and in exactly the right place as I said before no ‘musical space’ is left unused and none is used unnecessarily. The vocals are another strong point of the band; the singer has a voice that conveys emotion through a desperate bark that is accessible while retaining artistic flair and a distance from the listener. This is one of those albums where after a while you find yourself knowing all the lyrics to the songs yet you still don’t quite know what the band is on about, I’m sure that the lyrics weren’t the foremost thought on the band’s mind when writing this album as the musical wonders on show far outshadow the lyrics, they serve their purpose very well and some lines really hit a nerve the chorus of Tigerfox: ‘Is there any f****ing love in here!’ being an example and others bemuse in equal measure Autoshottie’s ‘Super James Dean!, crooked Vampire!’ although the lyrics are sometimes abstract and impenetrable they never detract from the experience and most of the time enhance the pulsating rhythms with some human edge to grab onto.
Some stand-out tracks for me would be Derp with its wondrous first riff morphing and changing skin throughout the song to form a groovy beast of song showcasing the chops of these musicians, The looping guitar lines of Autoshottie are another highlight with some mind bending riffage from the two guitarists. Auricom is my favourite on an album with absolutely no filler, its odd guitar effects and rigid structure held down by the rhythm section with real panache making for the best song on the album.
There really isn’t anybody right now making music this immediate, catchy, honest and intricate right now, I’ve listened to this album countless times and I have not encountered and sense of diminishing returns its intricacies and subtleties are such that once the immediate impact wears off the listener can appreciate every carefully placed part of the music. Everyone reading this review should definitely go and download this stunning set of songs because this album heralds the arrival of a great new band and is one of the best albums of 2010.