steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

review
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info opinion

Casper & the Cookies

"Modern Silence" CD

Happy Happy Birthday To Me

Genre: pop, indie pop

Athens, GA

June 5, 2009

Many bands produce decent pop hooks, but few do it with the same level of theatricality and gusto as Jason NeSmith's Casper & The Cookies. Awhile back I enjoyed the band's 2004 offering, Oh!, but Modern Silence is in a whole league of its own. Whether it will be widely recognized as such remains to be elucidated, but this album certainly has the stones to cement C&TC as bona fide pop experts.

Combing Modern Silence for songs worth mentioning is like trying to find hay in a haystack. The first moment of brilliance comes with smooth and airy "You Love Me," a terrific feel-good popper that stays strong throughout its nearly six minute duration. Peppy "Sharp!" and Joel Plaskett-esque "Moldy Flower" also leave their mark, but brilliantly expressive "Keep Talking," an ode to the foreign accent, could be the most memorable moment on this record. Bolstered by an excellent piano part, it distils all that's good about musicals into one four minute epic. In short, a necessity.

But mentioning only a few of these songs neglects several other worthy highlights. Among them are spacey "Cloud of Bees," bossa nova cum folk-popper "Chocolate Cake and Coffee," and cheery, Sufjan Stevens-esque "Eulogy for Marcel Marsalis." Even the "filler" (or what constitutes filler on this record) can be considered above average fare - for example, comparatively uninteresting "Little King" and blasť "Little Lady Larva."

All things considered, Modern Silence can be a bit much at times. Although committed to the all-encompassing Wisdom of the Melody, Casper & The Cookies steep their pop treats in a considerably eclectic array of influences. As such, this record bounds from sound to sound, often sounding more like a collection of disparate singles rather than a cohesive record. Still, tying the songs together are strong hooks and an impressive level of whimsy. This allows NeSmith and co. to get away with being somewhat disorganized, leaving the listener joyfully wide-eyed and sated.

casper & the cookies' myspace

87%

youuuuuuuutube!: "sharp!" live

 

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 18 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]