“What was it that you slipped inside my drink?/ Maybe poison?” Jon Savage demands on the enigmatic fist-pumper ‘Who Do You Trust’.
No need to be so paranoid, man. His group’s second album – a quietly confident collection of steroid-enhanced stadium rockers, sleek pop anthems, and genuinely heartfelt ballads – is what few others achieve: intelligent, adventurous and damn near impossible to get out of your head.
Sure Vusi Mahlasela shows up but not for the now-expected gentle backing vocals. With no place for that familiar angelic voice over the brassy blasts of ‘Break My Heart’, Cassette have reawakened the young firebrand within. And as he rages through lines like “You just keep paying the ransom to buy you peace of mind” it’s impossible not to recall the fiery ‘When Love Comes To Town’, U2’s equally brave collaboration with BB King.
That bravery continues on the purposely loose-limbed ‘Drunk ‘N’ Honest’. A rough ‘n’ ready barroom singalong – pissed backing singers already provided – its stripped back approach gives the often-thought, rarely-expressed sentiments a sincerity that slaps you right through the face.
More physical assault – a kick in the teeth, to be precise – comes courtesy of aggro music industry rant ‘Hungry Wolves’ (all threatening vocals, a fearsome guitar riff and Jane Breetzke’s organ stabs), while the stirring call to arms ‘Save This City’ and elegiac rock epic ‘Argentinian Skies’ (think Manic Street Preachers circa 1999) keep the adrenaline pumping.
The perfectly measured ‘Useless Confusion’ and ‘Fighter Planes’ temper the musical onslaught and highlight some of the more pensive lyrics (“Betrayed my eyes again/ Felt like something left by the moon/ But I sold out” he almost whispers on the former) but it’s the pensive ‘The Backup Plan’ that really gets under your skin. A pensive duet delicately produced by Darryl Torr and impeccably mixed by Killers collaborator Mark Needham so that Savage and Breetzke’s voices entwine in an intricate dance, even its quiet tenderness is more powerful than anything on the band’s debut.
Now that’s certainly no cause for paranoia.
- This article originally appeared on iafrica.com.