There's something eminently charming and lovable about an album that opens with a greasy, spaced-out synth line and ends with a guitar solo in the vein of a '70s coke ballad. In between those two things, Cascade becomes an odd, endearing mix of electronica and searing guitars. In the hands of a less capable producer this would be an unmitigated disaster, but in the hands of Ed Ackerson it's one of the more beautiful albums offered up this year. The lyrics are over the top and sort of silly at times, but you will find yourself singing along to them anyway. The songs mostly have to do with girls who exist only in the singer's imagination and pornography—but isn't that where a lot of girls in songs exist?
The guitar riffs and generally bouncy beats Mercurial Rage build around the lyrics more than make up for any weaknesses. Modern-day music lovers continually strive for something real but often times they latch onto what is simply more gritty, realistic storytelling—more Cormac McCarthy than H. P. Lovecraft, but neither is more real than the other. There isn't anything wrong with what Mercurial Rage are doing here, it's just not something that's done as often anymore. "F.F.F." (which stands for Flesh Filled Fantasy) is about a drunken, random hookup at a bar; "Robot Love" is as obvious as the title suggests. Cascade isn't a one-trick pony, however. "Uphill Climb," arguably the album's best track, is about a broken heart, one of the oldest subject matters in song, but you'll be hard-pressed not to think of that summer when your heart got trampled while you're listening to it.
Cascade isn't an album full of original ideas; it won't incite revolution or reinvent the wheel, but—more importantly—it's not trying to do so. It's an album full of fun, danceable songs that are trying to be fun, danceable songs. There's plenty of sad-bastard thesaurus-rock to be had; Mercurial Rage want you to have a good time, and you'd be wise to take them up on the offer.
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