On their debut album Cash and Carry Songs, Octet introduce their spin on playfully stylish electronic pop, which ends up being a nearly equal mix of catchy songs with electronic trimmings and more typical, but still engaging, post-IDM instrumentals. The album gets off to almost too good of a start with "Hey Bonus," which sounds like a lost chamber pop single run through a shredder and then wound up so tightly that it isn't just looped, it's coiled, like a serpent eating its own tail. The song's witty, strangely timeless feel has a distinctly French air (no, not that Air, although there are some similarities between that band and Octet) that makes it the most fully formed and distinctive song on Cash and Carry Songs. After this song, the rest of the album almost can't help but be a disappointment, but fortunately it's only a small one. The rest of Cash and Carry Songs' more pop-oriented tracks are quite good in their own right, especially the lovely "Blind Repetition," a beautifully broken ballad that features M83 vocalist Suzanne Thoma and a haunting clarinet melody that ties the song together. Thoma also appears on "Sneakers & Thong," a soul-tinged duet with Benjamin Diamond that recalls the naïve nostalgia of Octet's fellow countrymen Phoenix and Daft Punk. However, the band stumble slightly when they try to move deeper into soulful territory with the Prince homage "Feels Good to Give Up"; unfortunately, vocalists Taylor Savvy and Yasmine Mohammedi don't have quite enough charisma to pull off the track. Still, the tracks where Octet follow their pop instincts are stronger than their instrumental efforts, which ironically enough sound more derivative than their song-oriented work. Cuts like the bouncy, skronky "4/4 Waltz" and "Anti-Camp Policy" sound a little bit like a more delicate, less wide-ranging Mouse on Mars, while "Daddy Long Legs" is reminiscent of Plone's sweet naïvete. Many of the instrumentals feel overly long and underdeveloped and tend to spin their wheels, albeit charmingly so. However, the prickly, precise "Kino Cat Leng" and "Trackball of Fire," which is bouncy, glitchy, and melancholy at the same time, both have a distinctively Octet sound to them. Cash and Carry Songs is an interesting, promising debut, the kind of first album that makes you want to hear more from the band as soon as possible, to see whether or not they can live up to their potential. At any rate, it's worth a listen for most people intrigued by playful electronic pop.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
feat: Suzanne Thoma