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CAST ‘Love Is The Call’ Album Review: One of the greatest indie rock albums this side of the noughties

In the spirit of complete transparency, as an avid physical media consumer back in the ’90s, if I enjoyed a band, I would buy all their albums. But if I really got into a band, then I would always drop my hard-earned cash on every format of every single too. When I came across Cast when, if my memory serves me correctly, they were supporting Supergrass before they had released any material, while they grabbed my attention there and then, I filed them under the former category, never bothering to find out if their B-sides were worth picking up.

Having now listened to their 7th studio album, I have to admit that it felt awkward writing that preamble, as their latest long player ‘Love Is The Call’ is one of the greatest indie rock albums this side of the noughties and left me regretting not having been as into them as I am now. All the better for me now though, as this newfound appreciation had me exploring a wealth of previously overlooked material from Cast’s extensive discography.

Case in point: Frontman John Power has said on numerous occasions that it was Alan McGee who encouraged him to go off and write a fantastic record, and his words have clearly paid off as Power has done exactly that, delivering an absolute knock-out that still bears the band’s unmistakable stamp, whilst simultaneously sounding as alive as their debut album, with the added impetus of the band’s storied career and Power’s keener than ever attention to detail and desire to create a vital and cohesive listening experience.

The first three harbingers of the album, ‘Love You Like I Do’, ‘Love Is The Call’ and ‘Faraway’ had all piqued my curiosity as they all sounded like the Cast I knew, but at the same time there was something more ambitious about them; the jangling ‘Love You Like I Do’ sounding like the best of The Bluetones back in their prime, and ‘Faraway’ pushing the band’s instantly recognisable hymns into previously uncharted waters, making the song miles more infectious than previous similar iterations such as ‘Walkaway’.

The album opens with ‘Bluebird’, a deftly selected anti-epilogue that serves as a mellow prelude to the impending psychedelic storm and does everything BUT set the tone for the album, luring the listener in by creating a real sense of anticipation and curiosity for what’s to come.

Like I said earlier, Cast have always been best in show with their huge crowd-pleasing anthems, and this time out the poignant ballads ‘Faraway’ and ‘Tomorrow Calls My Name’ are two songs guaranteed to rouse the masses, while ‘Look Around’ is the very definition of the perfect pop song, destined to become the soundtrack of the summer.

On the fiercer side of the spectrum, ‘Starry Eyes’ is pure energy, packing a mean psychedelic guitar frenzy, but the stakes are raised even higher on a song I never realised I needed Cast to come up with, aptly titled ‘I Have Been Waiting’. The roaring, cavorting guitar work on display reveals Cast as relentless as they’ve never been and this unconventional swagger provides a surprisingly fitting contrast to Power’s reflective and melancholic sentiments, “I’ve been searching for myself all my life, but it ain’t too late for me to turn it all around”; a motif that punctuates the whole album and echoes Power’s comments in recent interviews about wanting to create the album that Cast was always supposed to produce. Recent interviews also saw him admit that writing this album was an opportunity to tap into a “fertile era” he had squandered between the break-up of The La’s and the birth of Cast, a sentiment he is echoed on later track ‘Time is Like a River’: “You can turn back time and try to face it”, backed by a lilting mariachi trumpet solo.

Simply put, ‘Love Is The Call’ is testament to Cast’s evergreen talents and continued evolution, showcasing their ability to consistently produce powerful, poignant and infectious music that connects with listeners both old and young. Whether you’re new to their music or a long-time or – like me – previous part-time fan, Cast’s latest release is a vital addition to their catalogue and a reminder of why we still love them like we do.

VERDICT: It’s Valentine’s Day and love is the call so it’s hearts rather than stars.

‘Love Is The Call’ is available to pre-order here. In addition to its digital release, Cast’s official store offers a green vinyl with a signed print as well as a pink vinyl and a signed CD, while Rough Trade offers a limited edition blue vinyl edition.

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