If the band's name isn't enough of a clue, the cover design for Cassette's debut should be enough to let you know these guys aren't afraid to hop onto the retro-everything bandwagon. And why not? The best thing the noughties have given us so far is the '80s, recycled, reupholstered and remembered as if life back then was somehow better.
Nostalgia works because it's so easy to remember the good times and forget the bad. Cassette do exactly this by giving us a cassette-like cover design, arbitrarily dividing the track listing into a "Side A" and "Side B", and even including those old frequency beeps at the beginning and end of the album - but it completely omits the steady background hiss, and the wow and flutter we all remember so well. Also, you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that the recording doesn't inexplicably snap in half or get stuck in your hi-fi after the second play. Thankfully, modern technology makes all this nostalgia bearable.
Cassette go for the FM jugular with a selection of drive-time pop-rock songs, mostly about girls. The opener," A.I.", is Prefab Sproutesque cocktail-pop. "Love with the Lights On" is perfect for that music video montage scene usually found halfway through any teen romcom. Then there's "Your Star"; "Beautiful Smile", and a whole bunch more listenable and formulaic love songs, with the possible exceptions of "Tracy", which seems to be about a guy with the hots for his sister, and the faux-rebellious "Get in the Ring", a contrived anti-Mugabe rant that says nothing you haven't already heard a million times while visiting your parents.
It's tuneful stuff, and sure to get its fair share of airplay, but ultimately, the whole thing is about as challenging as a poodle on Valium. Cassette are competent enough musicians to produce something far more inspired than this pop-by-numbers effort. Here's hoping that next time they're confident enough to try something new.
- Chris McEvoy
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