Cassino - Kingprince (Cover Artwork)


Kingprince (2009)


Though their former band toured much more extensively than Cassino, songwriters Tyler Odom and Nick Torres would be much better served if they were first recognized for this band's records, and not those they wrote as the driving force behind Northstar. That's not meant as a swipe at their old band. But with Kingprince, Odom and Torres have proven for a second time that every Cassino song is a musical watershed -- subtle and cathartic, bold but familiar.

This record finds the band exploring their occasionally-electrified country-pop sound a little more sparsely. That's not to say that this record is any less lush-sounding than their previous, Sounds of Salvation. The signature fullness of their sound is still present. But where the last record seemed to opt for production pieces, at least in terms of instrumentation, this one listens like an album that was written to be played live. The guitars are always the driving force this time around. They've revisited a few songs from their previous album and the new versions are more sparse, straightforward, percussive and driving. They've traded in a little bit of atmosphere for a little more energy this time, especially in the case of the changes they made to their last record's pitch-perfect closing track, "Ice Factory," which is no longer a piano-and-voice affair. This time it's got the kit drums and electric guitars we more often expect from Cassino. It's a good rewrite. The new versions are markedly different from the old and the lyrics are so unassailable that they're equally at home in either.

Though the record does move along a little more briskly than the last release, those who liked Cassino in their more atmospheric and moody moments won't be left unrewarded. The album's opener, "Djom" is a four-minute drone-driven piece that borders on the textural. Songs like these make very clear that Cassino is not a pop band, or even a country band, but one that stands on its own diverse merits every time they write music. The album also closes with a similarly expansive aesthetic, reminding us that Cassino knows how to appropriately bookend its records so that you're craving another spin by the time the final song draws to a close.

Two records into their lifespan, Cassino has proven that their music rarely leaves anything to be desired. They deliver memorable songs without verging on the repetitive. They consistently provide lyrics of absolutely literary quality -- this demands that their songs be listened to carefully and assures that even the most intelligent and critical listener will keep this record on rotation for a very long time. This record will please new listeners and meet most, if not all of the expectations the band's fans had for it.