April 11, 1999
Are our standards too high? Have we listened to too many amazing rock records for yet one more heartbreakingly competent disc to leave us so unmoved?...
5 / 10
Are our standards too high? Have we listened to too many amazing rock records for yet one more heartbreakingly competent disc to leave us so unmoved?
All that pre-millennial bullshit is just grist for the mill of uninspired broadsheet columnists, but the unavoidable truth is that, well, we've heard it all before. Too many times. And better. Are we jaded?
It's not you, Cast. It's us. We're sorry.
Opener 'Beat Mama' is a case in point, serviceable medium R&B threaded through with the kind of all-purpose backbeat ALL rock bands feel compelled to use since the Prodigy and Beck once more redrew the borders of the genre. There's a faint flicker of involvement, a kind of shrugged shoulders, hey-yeah-well-it- kinda-rocks-I-wonder-what's -on-TV-at-the-moment?, non-committal approval. And then, musical goldfish that we are, we zip along to the next course of modern music's bulging buffet.
The sad truth is that, 40-odd years after its first stirring, unless you're gonna do something interesting with the rock formula, or inject a sense of humour or excessive amounts of energy, or dress it up in a refreshing new style, then chances are we've heard it before, and are too bound up in our pursuit of aural sensation to wanna retread old ground with you. We've seen rock deconstructed, reconstructed, mated with unseemly genres, worn ironically... It's too late in the day to serve up reheated remains of what came before and expect anything more than polite acknowledgement from those rock-literate enough to know what's hot and what's not.
Check the title track, for instance. The moment you hear the obligatory strings, you immediately stop listening because, beaten senseless by promiscuous orchestral abuse by any mainstream 'rock' outfit since The Verve scored chart success, YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW IT WILL SOUND. Same with 'Dreamer'. The moment the gratingly dated 'dance-rock' rhythm track kicks in, a whole litany of similar crimes swim to the surface of your cerebellum and you realise, "Hey, I don't need to LISTEN to this track to know it sucks."
Which is, of course, unfair, especially as Cast have any number of charming, wriggly beat-pop gems up their sleeve (not least 'Compared To You' and the epic 'Burn The Light'). It's flawlessly well-played but the tragedy is that Cast seem not to realise that that's not enough any more. Although it's safe to say that, years from now, relaxing on their trout farms, paid for by the success of countless similar LPs and 'Scally - The Rock Opera', they probably won't care.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday