The Cansecos – S/T

The credits for The Cansecos’ self-titled debut LP state that the album was “recorded between September 2000 and September 2002 in various bedrooms in and around Toronto.” I live less than three hours from Toronto and listened to the album in my bedroom, which was a rewarding experience, with a lot of good songs, some great tracks, and rare misses. The Cansecos fiddle with lo-fi tones, chopped-up rhythms, and crunching beats to realize their melodic, computerized ambitions, and they do so with originality and excitement.
The album opens with the catchy “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Featuring distorted, robotic vocals by Bill Halliday and Gareth Jones that recall Simon LeBon singing some of Duran Duran’s less popular tracks from the Fab Five’s eponymous 1981 debut album, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” shifts from four-track cuteness to effective breakbeats toward its end. Unfortunately, the momentum dissipates somewhat with the second track, “In Bloom.” There isn’t enough singing, as we’re offered metallically accompanied talking that’s light on vocal diversity. The Cansecos recover with “Faster Than You Go,” as they echo their voices and heighten the human element with more emotion. This is a great song.
“The Shore” sounds like tropical new-wave and has a striking equatorial quirkiness. It’s a fun song that ends with surprising tranquility. The consistent drone and horn-like chorus of “This Small Disaster” give it a spacey feel; you’re curious to know what Brian Eno would think of this stuff. “This Girl and This Boy” is marvelous; a twisted, in-your-face creation that sounds like bombastic Christmas music for shopping malls from the 60s. With the chorus, “I think that we’re alike / That’s right girl you and I / Two satellites sharing an orbit right across the sky / “Till our paths converge and destroy this girl and this boy,” the song is synthetically successful, a definite highlight of the album. “What it Was You Said” features The Cansecos in an angrier mood, but you still think Halliday and Jones had to exert great effort not to smile during the track’s recording.
The lyrics and prominent acoustic guitar of “A Common State of Being” remind of Ben Lee, but the LeBon vocal style pops up again. “Blue Whale” has a restrained, melancholic chorus between slight touches of horns and deeper keyboards that will find favor with fans of Air. The lyrically surprising and funky 70s-like chorus of “Another Ordinary Day” saves the song’s stanzas from dragging. “Sawtooth” suffers from the same droll singing and lack of hooks that plague “In Bloom.” Thankfully, the song is over in less than three minutes. The album closes with the eerie, atypically aggressive “Stop, Breathe, Repeat.”
On their eponymous debut, The Cansecos mash up bleeps, tweaks, and lo-fi computer tricks to the point that it sometimes seems they’re more concerned with experiments than results. Give each song a chance and a complete listen and you’ll likely discover heart and soul behind the material. Recently, Torontonian post-poppers like The Russian Futurists and Manitoba have released synthesized, minimalist works to significant acclaim. At least as far as I’m concerned, similar praise should be bestowed upon The Cansecos for their unique, engaging debut album.