Review: Cast – Love Is The Call

Artwork for Cast's Love Is The Call album

Cast appear to have more intent than at any other point this century.

We truly live in circular times.

2023 was (apparently) defined by the media-dubbed ‘Summer Of Britpop’ with two of its main antagonists (Blur and Pulp) filling stadiums and arenas, evoking the more innocent and exciting memories of three decades ago.

But in truth the movement never really went away thanks to previous – if infrequent – reunions by said acts, adding to activity from the likes of Suede and Supergrass to name but a few.

Yet it’s hard to deny there does seem to be something in the air. 2024 has already delivered new albums from bands who – while not changing the culture – did provide some classic anthems. A (fully) reunited Kula Shakur have been earning plaudits with their latest effort and, remarkably, Shed Seven hit the top spot at the sixth attempt. Can Cast, proponents of timeless songs and cosmic spirits, follow suit?

In a just world, they will. In his recent interview with Live4ever, John Power – singer, songwriter and guitarist – declared he had considered what made debut records so exciting; namely the galvanizing energy from what could be the only chance to make an impression. Mission accomplished: there have been other moments in the past (such as 2017’s Do That) but on Love Is The Call, Cast appear to have more intent than at any other point this century.

Albeit not initially. The low-fi Bluebird, consisting just of Power and acoustic, opens the album with the Liverpudlian’s voice mildly weathered and thus with added gravitas. It’s a slight but sweet track before the rest of the band come into view – less with a bang than a march – on Forever And A Day, as Keith O’Neill (who has always shared more with Mr Moon than a forename) swings and stomps, with lyrics of self-doubt (‘I’m running round on empty dreams’) before positivity wins out (‘You’ve got a smile on your face again’).

Conversely, standout track Starry Eyes bristles with brio, all attitude and gristle, as guitars snarl in a swirling hurricane of a mid-section which melts the face before reining itself back in. The free-wheeling I Have Been Waiting ups the pace further, arguably being faster than it should be but the breathless pace adds – again – to the sense of purpose, built amid a brutal wall of repeated chords.

Cast always delivered strong singles – Power’s melodic ear forever perennially attuned – and recent offering Faraway is an anthem in waiting, featuring one of his best-ever vocal performances. The first taste of the album (Love You Like I Do) is classic Cast; it skips and glides with powerful, razor-like chords and elaborate drum fills with backwards vocals, all contributing to the sense of fun. Not yet a single (but strongest contender), Rain That Falls is built upon a subtle reoccurring guitar lick and includes a poptastic key change, fizzing with mod-esque intent.

Ironically, the title-track is perhaps the weakest offering, although it rollicks along pleasantly enough, while the snappy, McCartney-indebted Look Around contains a Wurlitzer of rocking guitars which elevate it. Meanwhile, the final pairing of Time Is Like A River and Tomorrow Calls My Name slow things down; the former is a psychedelic nursery rhyme (namely, catchy as hell) while the latter is the big finale, sailing away to the future with a positive message (‘You know it’s gonna be alright’) which circles round to the first track on debut All Change (Alright) which, given Power’s form in this area (‘cast’ being the last word on The La’s), is unlikely to be coincidental.

Is it Cast’s best album? Possibly. Regardless, stuffed as it is with psychedelic pop tunes, Love Is The Call is better than most seventh attempts.

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