Over the last three years, Casuals comprised of Bo Bucklen and Jeremy Shaw have been working on their debut album entitled Making Plans. It’s an album filled with a never-ending surplus of sound that bounces with an uplifting buoyancy that can be compared to artists like Passion Pit, Animal Collective and Panda Bear. Most of the songs have a relentless exuberance that is hard to ignore but the subject matter creates a unique dichotomy. Shaw and Bucklen explore the topic of growing older and all the fears, apprehensions and enthusiasm that comes with it.
The similarities to Animal Collective and Panda Bear are sometimes a little too overt for my liking. They implement vocal harmonies and production techniques that anyone familiar with Animal Collective and Panda Bear will spot from a mile away. That being said, a number of the songs are good and some of them verge on great.
Take for instance the very first track “Treats.” You are greeted with a number of ambient elements as the vocalist sings, “the final scene a spread from an old magazine.” The vocals are reverb laced with a bit of auto-tune and percussive elements make their way into the mix. Everything is well thought out and the little moments here matter. The vocal melody is infectious but other elements are pure ear candy, which is a pleasure to listen to. “Treats” very well maybe the highlight of the album.
The band goes a bit mellow on “Intents.” I was digging the music and vocals but unfortunately could not understand a word that was being said. The copious amount of reverb they apply on their vocals make it sound like another instrument than a focal point. The album goes through a number of other perfectly enjoyable songs including “Be, See,” “Making Plans” and closer “Between the Lines.”
One thing I can say with certainty is Shaw and Bucklen work well together and have some talent. It’s obvious they put a good amount of work in these songs. Every song has its own unique sounds and the structure is very thought out and well done. On top of that the songs are catchy enough to keep you coming back. The main thing holding them back right now is that their influences are too apparent. If they can take their production skill and talent and hone it into something uniquely their own then I can’t see much holding these two back.
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