It’s got catchy choruses and rousing hooks, but originality’s gone AWOL on this debut.
Mike Diver 2012-08-14
If familiarity can easily breed contempt, Dublin four-piece The Cast of Cheers must have braced for an overwhelming onslaught of scorn when readying this debut collection. Family doesn’t simply borrow from its makers’ math-rock forerunners; it robs them blind, delivering songs that are more Foals-ian than the Oxford five-piece themselves.
Which doesn’t make it a terrible album, of course. This is polished, well-constructed fare from the opening title track onwards, buffed to a satisfyingly high shine by former Clor member Luke Smith. Who also, as it happens, produced Foals’ Total Life Forever. Worryingly, it’s as if the behind-the-scenes logistics mirror the end-result music: can we sound a lot like that lot who wrote This Orient, please?
So overwhelming are the similarities between The Cast of Cheers and the act(s – after all, it’s not like Foals pioneered this brand of intricate, prickly and propulsive guitar music) that they’re echoing that the details of this set can get lost in the cavalcade of carbon-copied constituents. But repeat listens reveal highs enough to suggest that, if individuality emerges come album two, this lot will have a few things of their own to say.
Goose is breathless stuff, as twitchy as prime Q and Not U and packed full of bite. Its guitars are served serrated, its vocals yelped with intensity. Marso Sava incorporates undertones of Afrobeat into its mix, putting percussion at the forefront and letting the spidery guitar motifs add background texture – it’s almost like El Guincho collaborating with Everything Everything. And there’s something in the DNA of Animals that aligns it with the DeSoto stable: it certainly wouldn’t feel incongruous on an album by The Dismemberment Plan.
Definitive judgement is put on ice, then, for while The Cast of Cheers are shameless rip-off merchants on more than some occasions here, there’s evidently ability at work, and a decent ear for a catchy chorus or two. And it’s not like pop music hasn’t repeatedly recycled itself over the decades. But album two had better spark with more singular songs, or it’s straight to the indie landfill for these chaps.