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Casper and the Cookies

Modern Silence

(Happy Happy Birthday to Me; US: 12 May 2009; UK: import)

Unlike Deerhunter or Black Lips, Casper and the Cookies bring a sharp, distinctly clean pop song out of Georgia. And when take aim at that straight-up guitar pop on Modern Silence, it works. Opener “Little King” is an immediate shot in the arm with its sunny vocals and infectious hooks. And it leads to other great pop songs like the bubbly “Sharp!”, the goofy spacey freak-out of “Little Lady Larve”, and even the moodier “New Day Zero” to offset all that wide-grinning pop bliss.


But the band gets away from their solid pop sensibilities an awful lot on Modern Silence, and ends up making the album seem overly long by bogging it down with experiments that don’t quite work. “You Love Me” has a simple and compelling base, but it stretches out over nearly six minutes and unravels when it tries to do too much with its humble elements. The goofy kook-pop of “Pete Erchick Bicentennial Service Area” sounds just as contrived as its title is. And “Moldy Flower” could be a nice piece of dusty guitar rock if the vocals weren’t delivered in a silly, unnecessary falsetto. All these eccentric turns ring false next to the sturdier tracks, and end up watering down Modern Silence into an album that could’ve been a good, consistent pop record, instead of becoming one that is.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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