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Cheer-Accident — Vacate
(Cuneiform Rune 526, 2024, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-04-23

Vacate Cover art

Since its beginnings, Cheer-Accident has been one of the primary American exponents of jarring and difficult rock music. But what musicians create and what they love can be two very different things, and as it turns out, many of the members of the band have had a great fondness for some of the music often labeled as Easy Listening. Thymme Jones has said that his first musical love was Herb Alpert, whose classic albums of the 60s were the soundtrack of his childhood (mine too, for what it’s worth), and during the late 90s, the group started recording a set of songs largely inspired by some of this classic pop music. Burt Bacharach looms large in these tunes, the bases of which were recorded as demos before guitarist Phil Bonnet’s untimely death in 1999. Now, partly as a result of pandemic lockdowns, Cheer-Accident has picked up the pieces of the project and released them as Vacate. This music has several strikes against it from the start. First, any time a musician consciously tries to emulate a composer as iconic as Bacharach, comparisons are inevitable and almost certain to go in Bacharach’s favor — honestly, when it comes to writing pop songs, who can measure up to that standard? And secondly, fans of the band are going to compare it to the rest of the band’s catalog, and it is far from certain that anyone who likes Salad Days or No Ifs, Ands or Dogs would also be into The Carpenters or Dionne Warwick. When looked at in the light of those two qualities, Vacate is neither as elaborate as Bacharach nor as out-there as a typical Cheer-Accident album. But after listening to it quite a few times, I’m beginning to think that as its own thing outside those comparisons, Vacate is a pretty decent album. I quite enjoy “Closer,” “Overpass,” “Beached,” and the rest on their own terms, as pop along the lines of Belle and Sebastian, low-key but written with intelligence and sincerity. It’s an interesting little diversion in the career of a band known for something very different.

Filed under: New releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Cheer-Accident

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