Cashier No.9 have cultivated more than a prize bloom but rather a product with a purpose in their debut album To The Death Of Fun. The netting was swept off with the Goldstar EP in April and the album opens with the same track, perhaps to allay the question aroused by the EP: is this really the sound of Cashier No.9 proper, as hoped? Yes. The gleaming Goldstar, throwing down tiny stylistic flicks of vintage sound, foreshadowed everything to come on To The Death Of Fun. The breezy gusto of earlier singles such as 42 West Avenue and When Jackie Shone can still be heard but there's a slower, steady assurance in To The Death Of Fun, ripe guitars and rich keys set with beguiling electronic snippets. It stretches to a comfortable 43 minutes, using the room to pace through country, blues, folk and even motorik rhythms while passing itself off as unmistakably pop, bright and affectionate.
There is very little to fault. A lot has been made of having David Holmes in steerage and his production role on To The Death Of Fun is clear, affirming Cashier No.9's album with its own perceptible style yet seemingly without interference, as if he took a spade and lifted away the final layer to unearth the sound the band had been digging down to reach. Holmes' creative input is most clearly apparent in the deep, heavy background sound that has a similarity to his own Holy Pictures with the bass drum knocked back to a solid buffer throughout. Like a fertile soil, this brings velvety consistency to the album overall that allows for varied growth between songs and guides the ear to better recognise individual inflections and nuances.
Make You feel Better seems like an exception, the percussion almost imperceptible save for the lightest straps of snare drum as guitars and vocals endear and cajole. Lost At Sea is an exotic entity, a musical Sargasso of southern country that lets Daniel Todd's vocal drift sedately while the tropical skitter of castanets bind it tightly together. Good Human, coasting on guitars, waits by the downbeat Flick of the Wrist and while far from underwhelming, these tracks seem to sit quietly in the centre without any lofty expectations.
A Promise Wearing Thin takes a step up with a greater degree of complexity, the lush bassline leading towards the reverbating verses, and while a gorgeous piece of music in its own right, is eclipsed by what follows: also included on the Goldstar EP, Oh Pity still stands out from the entire collection as the most soft, supple and seductive track Cashier No.9 have ever made. It throws off the tranquility of country music and shakes up to a delinquent song of irrepressible good feeling, unmitigated ecstasy in scatters and splashes of keys. Driven by a motorik rhythm, the drums stake their claim to superiority, guitars relent and the vocal caresses sweep along to a truly stunning peak that despite clocking close to five minutes, feels like it could run on amok forever.
The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out really does act like an usher towards the album's closing moments, high, bright and sharp, followed by the amiable Goodbye Friend that hears the guitars' salutations take on a blue tinge and indeed, it is their final moment, the last rocky outcrop before 6%: so mellow and modest that it sounds like it could have been hidden as a secret track.
To The Death Of Fun is a misleading title in many ways for Cashier No.9 have made a record that brims with good vibes and rarely dips to anything resembling melancholia. It's a strange fruit indeed, an album threaded with tender objects, lyrics, instruments both subtle and overtly strong, and every characteristic has been carefully cultivated to a prize-winning standard that seems sustainable. Its blushed streaks of sound transcend the seasonal music menu and its trailing tendrils will curl around the listeners' attention and take root to flower and grow for many summers yet to come.