Right from the off, it’s clear that Cashier No.9 are not another of those bands who seek to revel in self-pity and navel gazing. Goldstar, this debut LP’s opening track – also released as a single earlier this year – quite literally shimmers with joy, its keyboards sparkling, its melody persistent, kettle drums rolling as though the song is dramatically introducing celebrities to a red carpet ceremony. It’s little wonder that, with songs like these under their belt, the band have made friends fast, and To the Death of Fun is studded with as many similar gems as it is with star turns: Jason Faulkner (formerly of Jellyfish) and Tommy Morgan, a veteran harmonica player who performed on The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations and provided the introduction to The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy, both make cameos, while the album was mixed by Hugo Nicolson, co-producer of Primal Scream’s legendary Screamadelica.
The biggest influence on the album’s jubilant atmosphere is, however, fellow Belfast resident David Holmes, who as producer gets to indulge a passion for Phil Spector’s expansive Wall of Sound whilst accommodating the many influences that Cashier No.9 exhibit. The fact that he does it without bowing to nostalgia is particularly impressive: To the Death of Fun sounds every bit as contemporary as it does timeless. What Holmes has done is to make their mixture of West Coast harmonies, chiming guitars, laidback tempos and addictive hooks utterly appealing rather than an exercise in musical archaeology. Thus, while there’s an immediate and welcome familiarity to the album, the slow recognition of its antecedents stands not as an obstacle to its enjoyment but rather an enhancement.
So the effortless shuffle of To Make You Feel Better has a certain Byrds-ian twang, A Promise Wearing Thin offers the allure of a Supremes classic, albeit draped in plaid shirts, and The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out sounds exactly like the kind of thing that The Stone Roses should have recorded within a year of their debut album, a lazy swagger buried within its lush psychedelia. This baggy influence is also on show for Oh Pity, which has echoes of Primal Scream’s pre-ecstasy dabblings in jangle-pop on their debut, Sonic Flower Groove, though Lost at Sea is more reminiscent of the melancholic, sun-dappled songs of Australian band The Go-Betweens’ overlooked 1988 classic, 16 Lovers Lane.
Overall, though, it’s not so much about whom it sounds like so much as how great it sounds, as well as how memorable the songwriting is. Introspection be damned: summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets…
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