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Casper and the Cookies are an actual band making actual music
Athens-based pop band Casper and the Cookies have recently released their fourth full album with the intriguing title Dingbats attached in order to telegraph meaning and perhaps intent to the less-informed listener, or conversely, to settle all bets about the Elephant 6 off-shoot band’s latest platter.
Yes, indeed, the group led by husband-and-wife team Jason NeSmith and Kat Stanton have fashioned another hyper-kinetic collection of mildly quirky, off-kilter songs ranging in subject matter from the perils of amphetamine use (“Amphetamines”) to post-modern cultural ennui (“When the Moon Was in Command”), placing this record firmly in line with their previous releases and in a sort of relative grouping with other, like-minded Southern pop groups.
However, don’t automatically lump this band in with Of Montreal just yet. Casper and the Cookies have a sense of fun that many of the more psychedelically inclined Athens groups just never possessed. In fact, Jason and Kay seem more intent on aligning themselves with an earlier pop landscape that includes groups like the dBs, Let’s Active, and the B-52s rather than the sometimes more self-conscious Athens bands of the ’90s.
This is a striking difference, and it’s one that can result in charges of artistic triviality, but I would disagree. This band is nothing if not sticklers about detail, and the sound of the recording is terrifically full and precise. The album is bookended by two of the band’s most ambitious recordings ( “Improvvisamente Ardito” and the aforementioned “When the Moon Was in Command”) which stretch the group in ways both technically and aesthetically not previously hinted at.
But in between, the Cookies manage their usual stock in trade: highly melodic pop and rock songs with attention to skittering rhythms and always ace musicianship. In other words, Casper and the Cookies are not narcissistically holding a mirror up to themselves and pondering the inner workings of their dark psyches. Instead, they are looking for the perfect pop song as defined by themselves. Trivial? Never!
Hopefully, Casper and the Cookies find old audiences receptive to their newest offering and new fans ready to hear an actual band make actual music, which is not indebted to some past musical genre and updated for the iPhone crowd. Carry on, Cookies!