I was lucky enough to meet Cassia last year, and what I met was three boys who were just loved playing music, and who couldn’t be more excited to see what their career had in store for them next. Having come through the BBC Introducing system in my hometown of Stoke, I’ve got even more of a soft spot for the band, which makes it all the more exciting that they’ve taken this next step on their short but successful rise to fame by releasing their debut album ‘Replica’.
The album is made up of the best of their debut EP, ‘Movers and Shapers’, as well as their massive breakthrough track ‘100 Times Over’, which got plenty of airtime on BBC Radio 1 when it was first released. This made the album quite a comfortable shift to listen to for fans, the new tracks are set in amongst the fan favourites and old tunes. I’m always slightly put out by this, however. Although this was definitely the right thing to do for a band in Cassia’s position, it does result in the lack of an element of shock or surprise that a brilliant album needs.
But at the same time, I’m not that surprised by the predictability: part of the charm with Cassia is that you know what you’re getting and that’s what makes them so relaxing and compelling to listen to.
The album opens in strong fashion with the most recent single ‘Small Space’, the song with the clearest influence of afro-beats through, drummer, Jake’s pat-pat style and without a doubt the biggest sound. The chorus builds brilliantly beyond the delicate riffs of the verses by overlapping layers of guitar – which is really impressive to see live when, frontman and guitarist, Rob uses the loop pedal to play it all at once. For me it’s the best track of the lot – which can be a bit dangerous for an album’s longevity.
‘Sink’ follows this, keeping up the heavier side of Cassia’s style in spectacular fashion. Jake and Lou, the bassist, add depth to the Rob’s vocals to create a more complete sound for the band where a lot of three-pieces can seem a little threadbare.
Title track, ‘Replica’, is the first of the new tracks to be heard; coming a little later than expected at track five of twelve. It’s a track which perfectly embodies the bands style: it’s a relaxed, guitar-indie track that is made for sunny days in the park with a few drinks. Fittingly, ‘Under the Sun’ is the track that follows this, really bringing the metaphor together.
A major theme of the album is escapism, which again works well with the beach-indie sound, but is perhaps more identifiable through the lyrics: “…just let go of it all, there’s no pressure to satisfy your soul” clamours ‘Guidance’. The leading guitars in this track have a rock ‘n’ roll sound to it, and the Jake Bugg style echo-effect on Rob’s voice is more prevalent than on the other tracks.
It’s also seen through the general subject-matter of tracks, ‘Small Space’ explores frustration with your situation, feeling trapped with where you are in life, “…we could get away, so why don’t we?”.
The top heavy start comes back to bite the album in the backside unfortunately, as the final trio of tracks just can’t hold a candle to it. ‘Get Up Tight’, my least favourite of the already released tracks sparks an underwhelming trio of songs which just leaves you asking for a little more. Although closing track ‘DreamA’ has all the hallmarks to be a crowd pleaser at live shows, with a heavy chorus full of “Oh Oh Oh” moments for a singalong and a fading, its simplistic plodding guitar falls short of the quasi-reggae tone of the rest of the album. It doesn’t help either that the song has such a slow, fading ending. The mix of the two keeps you holding on and waiting for something more to happen; an unfortunate way to end what has potential to be quite a good album.
Perhaps the ordering is the product of an element of naivety on the part of the boys, with this being their longest release to date; or perhaps it’s me being picky, and simply not liking certain tracks. If there’s one thing to be taken from the first three-quarters of the album however, it’s that Cassia have got a really bright future, and the potential to be the sound of many a barbecue for plenty of years to come!
Cassia’s debut album ‘Replica’ is available on all platforms now.