A few years ago Danny Todd was embroiled in a heavily electronic musical venture called Alloy Mental. His new band, Cashier No 9, couldn’t be any more different. The Northern Irish quartet have spent a long time compiling enough material for a full-length release and To The Death Of Fun is their first. It looks towards the sunshine-soaked sound of the LA West Coast, echoing the objectives of The Thrills, from across the border in Dublin, who managed to achieve both critical and commercial acclaim in the mid-2000s.
The results of Cashier No 9’s hard work produce a mixture of dream-like lullabies, the kind of harmonies you’d expect from almost any artist on the Bella Union label (especially in the wake of Fleet Foxes‘ success) and the odd ambitious brush with drama here and there. It all adds up to a hugely enjoyable listen that is made for these long summer days. If anything, they’ve chosen the best time to release the album as it’s perfectly suitable for whatever summer we have left.
Goldstar opens with a dramatic flourish. Synthesizer melodies are sweeping in their grandiose nature and a harmonica solo bursts through out of nowhere but, crucially, do not distract or detract from what else is going on. However, electronic elements are merely playing a small part in the big picture. There’s a lot happening but somehow it doesn’t feel overly-arranged or cluttered. Lost At Sea works in a similar way with its shuffling rhythm as keyboards twinkle brightly throughout.
However, it’s when they loosen up a bit that they hit their stride and, arguably, reach the lofty heights that The Beta Band once managed. To Make You Feel Better sounds so effortlessly and stress-free with its jangly guitar line, measured tempo and excellent harmonies. The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out shows them at their baggiest yet it also emerges as one of their strongest songs. Sure, it’ll remind you of a vintage Primal Scream song but it is remarkably catchy and showcases their musicianship at its very best.
Amidst the uptempo material there are moments where the mood turns calmer. The reflective, quieter songs don’t really have the same impact as the rest. Good Human has the pace of a slow waltz but it’s beautiful nonetheless whilst the magnificently hazy 6% brings everything to a relaxed and sedate close.
To The Death Of Fun works on a lot of levels. There are plenty of influences on show but no song on here feels like it’s deliberately trying to be a pastiche to the past. The songwriting is impressive and on repeated listens some of the really clever aspects of it become more apparent. What’s more, they’ve shown that they have enough layers to their sound – and plenty of ideas – to carve out a very successful path for themselves. Ignore the plain-sounding band name and the pessimistic album title, for this is a bright and noteworthy LP for summertime.