Cant can deliver pleasure after all

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Hearing the words ‘side project’ in the same breath as one of your favourite bands can do weird things to you. It’s kind of like watching the movie adaptation of a great book: you’re dying to see it, but at the same time petrified of what it will do to the original. Grizzly Bear’s Chris ‘the everything man’ Taylor has a reputation built on multi-instrumental talent and masterful production skills. Hearing of his new side-project Cant threw my mind into a spin – from his glorious indie band to production credits for the likes of Twin Shadow, the guy has a lot to live up to.

From the very first listen, there is a sense that Taylor has been itching to do this for years. The warm, cosy Grizzly Bear cabin has nurtured him well, but there has been something bustling under the surface. ‘Dreams Come True’ is that something. Cant’s debut positively bursts with the thrill of experimentation, fresh ideas and haphazard inspiration, and it feels like this album has been sitting in Taylor’s heart for a while. Drenched with synth and layered distorted bass, Cant is a far cry from the creature comforts of the Bear. The album starts out with smooth, chilled beats, funk-inspired bass lines, and a sense of fresh summer air. Then the epic ‘She Found A Way Out’ swings almost schizophrenically from ethereal vocals over a quiet, spacey guitar to a heavy bass explosion, vocally and instrumentally demolishing that initial prettiness with something dark and brooding: “Someone must have forgot, they’ve all forgot”.

Parts of the album feel a little disconnected, however, as though some of the songs really were ‘dreams’ or ideas that never quite culminated into something whole. The tracks bounce off each other, rather than folding into a common fabric. Emotionally, the album is all over the place, but this works in Cant’s favour: ‘Dreams Come True’ has a frenzied honesty that is trying to tell us everything all at once. I can’t help feeling that perhaps it could have been slimmed down to an EP, giving it more coherency while maintaining that experimental delight. In the end, Cant passes the side-project test: it’s not as perfect as perhaps I’d hoped, but it certainly hasn’t quelled my adoration of Chris Taylor. Throw it (carefully) on your summer-is-coming pile next to Memory Tapes and Twin Shadow, and let yourself soak in luxurious beats.

 

‘Dreams Come True’ is out through Warp / Inertia.