Under Review: CANT – Dreams Come True

It’s a little unfair to identify bassist/producer Chris Taylor as the secret weapon of the celebrated experimental pop band Grizzly Bear. After all, all four members are exceptional singers, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists. What Taylor does have going for him is a bold ambition, having spent the years since the release of Veckatimest in the producer’s chair for bands like The Morning Benders and Twin Shadow. He also established his own record label, Terrible Records. Though not nearly as boutique-y as Jack White’s Third Man, Terrible has seen an impressively rapid rise to renown, releasing singles by Blood Orange, Chairlift and more. The second full-length to be released on Terrible is Dreams Come True, the debut album from Taylor’s own CANT. Together with George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow, CANT allows Taylor to explore a loosely soul- and R&B-based style, all of which gets filtered through an extremely warped lens. For those who became enamored with Grizzly Bear’s lush, folk-influenced sounds, CANT will come as a cold, abstract and difficult listen.

Augmenting his beloved bass guitar with sweeping synthesizers and metronomic drum machines, Taylor constructs a mostly impenetrable world of shifting tempos and lopsided beats. Even relatively accessible tracks like “Believe” leave little room for the listener to latch onto, favoring atmosphere over melody. The hushed “She Found A Way Out” is a disarming and eerie piece that would be quite pretty in another setting. Here, though, the sparse production comes across as distant and unnerving, like we’re walking in on something highly personal that we’re not supposed to hear. The occasional rhythms, as on opener “Too Late Too Far” and the title track, are itchy and nagging but don’t engage as much as bewilder. You certainly can’t dance to Dreams Come True, and the near total absence of hooks means you can’t really sing along to it. Perhaps that’s why Taylor picked such a negative-sounding moniker for his project. Thing is, Taylor has already shown many times over that he is capable of making some wonderful art. This time around, though, his end result has come up a bit short.

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~ by E. on August 26, 2011.

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