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 Silenceis 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.