Cant is white boy r&b, an at times dense indie electronic album that is brimming with disparate ideas and approaches. Perhaps too many. One moment it’s gentle late night and minimal with a repetitive guitar line and throaty folksy vocals, yet then it moves into taut electronica before erupting into woozy distorted avant electronic sound art piece, and that’s just one song (Bang).
It’s everything but the kitchen sink, clearly the work of someone throwing every idea they’ve ever had at the music and seeing what sticks. Or you’d think so if it wasn’t the debut solo album of Chris Taylor, a man who’s already demonstrated his chops in Grizzly Bear, and via production for Twin Shadow (who appears here) and Blood Orange. The production is crisp and articulate and the vocals are earnest with gentle harmonies -but that’s where the resemblance to his day job ends.
It’s very much an electronic album, with dense washes of synth and programmed beats. All of this could make it a little cold, a little artificial, however the vocals really plug right into the emotions. In fact there’s a certain Phil Collins element to the way he sings at times, particularly on the opener Too Late Too Far. It’s these unexpected linkages that highlight the real pop feel to his music. It’s the opposite of slick, and in fact the pop often appears hand in hand with the noisier more dissonant moments, yet it’s lurking here and prevents any prickly moments of abrasiveness from becoming too much. Between the song based electrics are these gentle acoustic moments with Taylor crooning on guitar or even piano.
There’s a lot going on here and there’s no doubt it takes some time to digest and allow the tunes to really breathe, but when they do, it’s impossible to ignore the sheer musical and production precociousness as well as the diversity of styles.