For all its vibrancy, the music scene in Northern Ireland is still a relatively small one, made up of several key players, some of whom have been around for quite some time now. In local terms, Cashier No.9 are a veritable institution, featuring alumni from Alloy Mental, Yakuza, The Skinflints, and The Embers, amongst others.
However, step outside the blinkered world of Northern Irish music, and these names will probably mean nothing. After all, there are thousands of indie bands currently clamouring for our attention from all over the world, so why should we listen to Cashier No.9?
The answer hits you in the face with the opening track, ‘Goldstar’ (listen below). Cashier No.9 aren’t just some bunch of dime-a-dozen indie chancers, they're the real deal. 'Goldstar' is a breezy monster of a track, announcing the arrival of something special.
This feeling never lets up as the album progresses. Every track has an anthemic quality. In lesser hands, this sky-scraping, arms-thrown-wide-open quality could easily have become grating, but Cashier’s years of experience have given them the skills to do it right. They bring their own special charm to the mix.
In no small part, this is due to the lush production of David Holmes, the Belfast DJ who has conquered Hollywood with his soundtracks to the Oceans movies (and released several acclaimed albums of his own).
Whilst Cashier No.9 have it nailed when it comes to crafting melodies and lyrics, Holmes sweetens the sonic palette, adding orchestral flourishes, electronic textures and a crispness to the sound that makes To the Death of Fun seem both modern and timeless.
Tracks like ‘Oh Pity’ cruise along on a bed of tightly strummed acoustic guitar, chunky bass, and punchy drums, before exploding in a sheen of streamlined noise, soaring through the heavens into infinity and beyond.
It’s psychedelic in feel, but avoids the trap of sounding too glossy, a product of style over substance. All the while, Danny Todd’s laconic drawl relates stories from the edge of town, of misfits and losers always on the cusp of being ripped off, but somehow managing to avoid certain doom.
There’s a pronounced danceable edge to some of the tracks, with ‘The Lighthouse Will lead You’ recalling the Charlatans at their bass-heavy best, whilst ‘Flick of the Wrist’ has an irresistible shuffle beat.
If there’s any downside to this album, it’s that it doesn’t particularly have a strong hook to hang itself upon. In a world where everyone’s trying to find their own angle, and sell themselves to the masses, Cashier No.9 have simply crafted an album that’s brimming with beautiful songs and melodies.
Whether this is enough to catapult them directly into the heart of the mainstream is anyone’s guess, but for anyone looking for pop music with heart, soul, brains and brawn, To the Death of Fun might just be exactly what you’re waiting for.
To the Death of Fun is released on Bella Union on June 20.