Belfast five-piece Cashier No. 9 couldn’t be further away, musically, from Two Door Cinema Club, the current darlings of the Northern city’s music scene. Referencing everything from The Byrds to Primal Scream, their widescreen sound and tightly-crafted songs don’t aim to “nail it” in three minute pop songs, but instead wrap themselves up in a groove that can bring them to the five minute mark. For this quality alone, they immediately bring to mind Creation-era Primal Scream; a devotion for classic song structure but with the dimensions and grooves that have made great electro records timeless.
Lead single ‘Goldstar’, with its nod to Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, is an immediate, confident and ambitious opener, which even manages to pull off a harmonica solo (from Hollies’ sessioneer Tommy Morgan, no less) that could have gone badly wrong. Although the banal title of ‘Lost at Sea’ is off-putting at first, it shares the same thunderous drums and restless rhythms of ‘Goldstar’ and is an obvious single in waiting.
The bridge between their obvious ’60s, West coast leanings and ’80s & ’90s British indie rock becomes more obvious, with ‘A Promise Wearing Thin’ recalling the melodic grandeur of Echo and the Bunnymen classic ‘Ocean Rain’ and the groove-laden, baggy-indebted ‘The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out’ bringing to mind mid-’90s era Charlatans. Over the ten tracks, it’s the fusion of these influences that manage to keep the music fresh and exciting. Closing track, ‘6%’, a downbeat synth- drenched song, is an intriguing way to end the journey, and could very well signal the direction they take on album number two.
At the heart of Cashier No. 9’s impressive debut is David Holmes’ lush production, which skillfully adds textures and layers without resorting to the nostalgic, retro stylings that often date a record. Throughout, the multi-dimensional arrangements often recall Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs and All is Dream. However, like the aforementioned records, it’s also grounded in the tight songwriting structures and styles which defined the Laurel Canyon songwriters of the ’60s / ’70s, like Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne and Gene Clark. And while they lack memorable, inspiring lyrics that make use of the broad song forms they write in, these anthemic, big sounding songs could make Cashier No. 9 a surprise hit at festivals the world over.