Casper & the Cookies

Modern Silence

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It's a bit glib to say it but it's also true -- for most of its length, Modern Silence finds the meeting point between power pop, synth pop, and new wave, and if that all sounds like three ways of stating the same thing to one extent or another, then that seems to be what Of Montreal veteran Jason Nesmith's band Casper & the Cookies are exactly aiming for on their third album. There's a focused precision throughout Modern Silence that's even more in the pocket than its many obvious touchstones that perhaps could only have been a 21st century product, while the hint (if not concrete proof) of Autotune on a couple of vocals further cements its not-quite-revivalism atmosphere -- if the band never completely breaks out into sheer dance party exuberance like U.S.E., say, its almost-too-formal-for-its-own-good breaks and builds and singalong choruses still pack a punch, even in a seemingly collapsing stop-start drum-heavy number like "Pete Erchick Bicentennial Service Area," with an arch delivery from singer/bassist Kay Stanton that sounds like it should be on Ze Records more than anything else. (Perhaps it's only appropriate that she ends up singing the album's most immediate highlights like "Meredith" and "Little Lady Larva.") Meanwhile, lush string-laden ballads like "Song Across the Sea" and mid-'80s XTC twinkly pop like "Chocolate Cake and Coffee" refract the sense of arty experimentalism that reaches back even further than the roots of new wave and its parallel forms, while the concluding "I Am Gone" -- a full 15-plus minutes of cut-ups, nervy jams, and "Revolution 9" collages -- completely upends the expectations of the album in the end.

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