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A Cast of Thousands - Songs From the Second Floor (Record)

A Cast of Thousands-Songs From the Second Floor
30 January 2023

On their eighth album, this Auburn/Finger Lakes, NY outfit, led by husband and wife co-lead singers Terry Cuddy and Beth Beer, further sharpens the stylistic breadth shown on 2019’s Sleeping World. So much so, the first three tracks each sound like different bands: “No Detection” is burbly, Wire-meets-Devo new wave and krautrock, “Decades” is an airy, theatrical, piano-led waltz, and “Heading Nowhere Again” — a reworking of a 2016 song by pianist/composer Richard Del Favero, co-written and sung by guitarist Terry Quill — is Harry Nilsson/“Everybody’s Talkin’”-hued folk-rock with psychedelic shading.

On the second half, the crunchy Visqueen-esque rocker “Astrological Signs” and speedier, Rezillos-like “Holiday in Amerika” are balanced by two alluring, Susanna Hoffs-evoking ballads crooned by Beer, “Red Line” and “Hyper Individual.” While the LP is named for director Roy Andersson’s bleak 2000 Swedish black comedy, and its lyrics seem inspired by the film’s story of an abandoned society’s loss of hope and communal connection, the music is always radiant and engaging. (