Given the state of the world in 2017 and the fall-out from [insert Trump’s latest crime against humanity here], the AM radio sheen of Brent Cash’s backwards-looking ‘The New High’ is an ideal panacea.
As he has done throughout his career, Cash takes his cues from sunshine pop of the ‘60s and ‘70s as well as the classic singer-songwriters of the era, evoking a sound that has its roots firmly embedded throughout music history. Touches of Ben Folds piano and prodigious use of strings mean you can almost feel the wind in your hair as you drive with the top down through Laurel Canyon.
However, all is not well in Cash’s world and the counterpoint to this sweetness — the shard of glass in the tin of Quality Street, if you will — is the lyrics, which tell of a man coming to terms with heartbreak. It’s almost comical how Cash’s fey tone and some gorgeous harmonies make the phrase “you were really out for blood” (from ‘Out For Blood’) sound like a loving compliment. Similarly, ‘The Way You Were’ has vocals and violins that sound like they descended from heaven itself, only for you to realise the subject matter is a relationship that’s crumbled due to the girl dedicating herself to God.
The upbeat melody paired with downbeat stories trick is nothing new (nothing on this record really is), but eventually the instrumentation can’t carry the weight of positivity, and the arrangements begin to slow down and become more introspective as the album draws to a close. This means ‘The New High’ gives the impression of defeat as it ends, something directly in opposition to the West Coast feel at the beginning. Still, right now, Brent Cash’s world is a much better world to live in than this one, heartache and all.
Words: Joe Rivers
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