Album Reviews

Cassius – 15 Again

(Virgin) UK release date: 25 September 2006

Its refreshing to be able to report on a majorlabel keeping faith with one of its electronic acts inthe manner Virgin have with Cassius. Three years agothe pair released their second album Au Reve, asprawling yet oddly magnificent opus that managed tocover uplifting house with the help of JocelynBrown or rap with the help of GhostfaceKillah . Having taken two years to record itunderperformed on release, prompting the boys to putstrict rules in place this time around.

Zdar and Boom-bass stuck rigidly toeight hours per song, with six hours allowed forpost-production and mixing. Thus the record wascompleted in three weeks, and the ploy seems to haveworked, the end product a fresh and invigoratingrecord that lives up to its title.

You could hardly wish for a better start than thesingle Toop Toop, its garage-punk overtones andoff-beat guitar teaming up with Zdars full-throatedvocals. It makes for an uplifting opener.

And yet the albums best track could hardly be moredifferent. Pharrell Williams is partlyresponsible, having written the words to go with musiclargely lifted from Au Reves opening instrumentaltrack, delivering the vocal himself. When the openingverse complains how no one uses energy savers, caremissions kill ozone layers it would be easy topigeon hole the song as a self-righteous environmentalcrusade. Nothing could be further from the truth, withthe central refrain look at your life now hittinghome in a deeply affecting manner.

Despite Eye Water making maximum impact in itscentral position the rest of the record is hardlyoutclassed. Later tracks Cactus and La Notte servereminders of the boys credentials in deep, funkyhouse music. Vocalist Gladys reappears to dress upRock Number One, betraying 80s influences to startwith but letting its hair down further in. She thenspars with boyfriend Zdar in the acid house referencesof 15 Again. The strong feeling of community withinFrench dance music continues as SebastienTellier and Etienne de Crecy guest, thelatter taking 303 duties on a couple of tracks.

Where this album really triumphs is in itsstructure. Electro remains as a loose coefficient ofthe work but the boys show themselves perfectlycapable of integrating rock and house along the way.It makes for a wonderfully life affirming record,capable of humour, joy and reflection. Every homeshould have one.

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