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Cassettes Won’t Listen - Evinspacey

While ‘Evinspacey’ isn’t a bad listen by any means, it ultimately isn’t all that indelible, either.

With more and more musicians cranking out homemade, computer-aided music from within the comfy confines of their own bedroom, it’s getting harder for the discerning listener to separate the wheat from the chaff. Most of those makeshift releases get lumped into a niche genre that only music obsessives pay much attention to, with nearly all of them forgotten about as soon as the next big thing gets discovered, or dismissed outright as nothing more than a clever hobby of a reclusive kid with access to a bunch of newfangled gadgets.

As for Jason Drake, the brainchild of Cassettes Won’t Listen, he’s managed to keep a faint spotlight focused on him for quite a while now, especially in the world of homespun electronic music. And for his third full-length he made quite a stir by looking to name his album after the actor Kevin Spacey, who immediately hit back with a cease-and-desist order that forced Drake to cleverly rename the record ‘Evinspacey’. The buzz was built-in before the music even arrived, which is the perfect scenario for any artist looking to sell music in this era, especially for someone on the fringes like Drake. And while there are definitely some appealing tracks to be found here, the record mostly buckles under the hype that proceeded it, surely making Spacey (who hasn’t had a good role in years) confident in his decision not to be affiliated with the album in any way.

A subtle nod to the Beastie Boys kicks off the record, but unfortunately ‘Friendly Float’ gets the record off to an uneven start which serves as a precursor to the patchy tunes that follow. ‘Perfect Day’ has the catchy, cross-generational appeal that made Moby nearly ubiquitous on TV advertisements after the release of Play. And while, under the right circumstances, the bouncy, ebullient track surely will find its way to a wider audience, it grates a bit as it winds down, lingering a minute past its usefulness. ‘The Echoes’ sounds like an attempt to capture the stylish charm of the Postal Service, without the sonic inventiveness or soul, coming across as a tepid facsimile of an outdated fashion we grew tired of long ago.

Vocals play a much bigger role on ‘Evinspacey’ than they have on Drake’s last two albums, and while that lyrical presence helps personalize these numbers (as opposed to the cold, electronic distance created on Into The Hillside), it mostly serves as a cumbersome distraction from rather mundane beats (‘The Night Shines,’ ‘Wave To The Winners,’ ‘Pick Me Out’). But ‘Stuck’ and ‘Turn Back The Other Way,’ which anchor the middle section of the record, both have interesting sonic flourishes that are inventive and fresh, and Drakes muted, effects-heavy vocals work well within these parameters. These numbers have a pulse and a relaxed seductiveness that make them intriguing and memorable, while also clearly standing out amongst a bunch of other tracks that unfortunately pale in comparison. The album draws strongly to a close with the menacing downbeat of ‘Runtime,’ which echoes the gloomy urgency of Trent Reznor’s soundtrack work, but unfortunately detours one last time for the bubbly last track ‘Waiting,’ which ends the album awkwardly.

It seems that rather than push the boundaries of his basic musical formula, Drake aims for a wider, more commercial appeal with these breezy, electro-pop collages. And while ‘Evinspacey’ isn’t a bad listen by any means, it ultimately isn’t all that indelible, either. Certainly not enough to keep it from being forgotten amongst the steady stream of self-made bedroom jams currently flooding the market.

Tags: Cassettes Won’t Listen, Reviews, Album Reviews

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