Spot the difference: Bloc Party, Foals, Vampire Weekend, The Cast of Cheers. Well? Aside from the myriad of differences that render this a pretty redundant point and piece of writing in general, the main one is that the former three bands had their heyday 3-8 years ago, despite presently all recording new material. Even then highly derived from the likes of Devo and Clor, their music retained a freshness and vitality that made big names out of the three said bands, with festival headlining slots, best selling albums and Radio One airplay.
Indie music seems to have progressed not one jot from then if The Cast of Cheers’ second record is anything to go by; stuck firmly in the era of Skins, Family bears witness to jittery, yelping post-punk of a pretty high standard, but fails to tread any new ground, occasionally treading water instead. Still, a fuck sight better than Two Door Cinema Club.
Opener and titular lead single ‘Family’ gets things going in a pretty ferocious manner; insistent, intense and laden with hooks, this track, undoubtedly a joy live, translates to record pretty well, retaining a refreshing urgency and vitality. Similarly as on ‘Human Elevator’, a track that combines Battles-style tribal rhythms with an excellent industrial keyboard riff in the chorus, this track will undoubtedly cause some accidents during the festival season’s mosh pits. Indeed, the let up in tempo and ferocity is pretty non-existent as the record progresses, with the excitable band going in all guns blazing for the majority of the tracks; although occasional yelp interludes are found in comparatively mellow tracks such as ‘Palace and Run’.
Although the music is formulaic and derivative, the band’s own enthusiasm shines through the record in a both infectious and endearing fashion, leaving you with no choice but to forgive them for such lyrical travesties as “You’re a go getter/ So go go get her” on the appropriately titled albeit instantly forgettable ‘Go Getter’.
The production on the record, courtesy of Total Life Forever knob twiddler, Clor guitarist and cult danceable-indie hero Luke Smith, is also admirable. Smith captures the wildness of The Cast of Cheers and translates a band that is clearly a live one onto record with pretty smooth results; retaining the intricacy, close band interplay and unhinged yet precise rhythms without losing any of the clout that the band have so much of.
Overall, the record is a good one, despite its apparent lack of new sounds or ideas. Despite instances where some tracks don’t hold up as well as the others, the aforementioned ‘Go Getter’ for example, Family is a fun and exciting second effort, if little else. With as much carefree abandon and angst as it has Foals, Bloc Party and Vampire Weekend-isms I feel the two almost cancel each other out. By no means a record of the year, it could be one for the summer- use with generous quantities of alcohol, pills and nitrous oxide and see how that goes.