Album Review: CANT - Dreams Come True

Turns out dreams come true indeed – CANT is like fresh air from left field, brilliant and creative, indicative of Taylor’s versatility as a songwriter.

B+ | 9.13.11 | Terrible | Stream | Spotify | MP3 | Vinyl | CD

CANT - "She Found A Way Out"

Chris Taylor is the guy in Grizzly Bear who plays the nine million instruments. Does that narrow it down enough? He’s the nominal bassist in the New York quartet, but for Taylor the word “bass” connotes not just the instrument but a rather broad concept – I’ve watched him switch through a selection of woodwinds on more than one occasion, and the pedal setup at his feet during live shows is always intimidatingly diverse. That boy’s-choir feel, the dizzying layering of voices that made songs like “Cheerleader” on Grizzly Bear’s 2009 masterpiece Veckatimest so chillingly beautiful has Taylor’s limber falsetto to thank, not to mention his production skills (he’s also lent those to Dirty Projectors, the Morning Benders, and Twin Shadow, among other bands). As if that weren’t enough, Taylor co-owns Terrible Records, who have been busy releasing 7”s from Blood Orange, Chairlift, and Violens, as well as full-lengths from Twin Shadow and Class Actress, and who  are releasing Taylor’s own solo debut as CANT, Dreams Come True.

Turns out dreams come true indeed – CANT is like fresh air from left field, brilliant and creative, indicative of Taylor’s versatility as a songwriter. Not many vestiges of the indie folk Taylor and his bandmates in Grizzly Bear engineer with such mastery are present here, nor are many sonic ties to the myriad groups Taylor has produced. Dreams Come True is humid and brooding and dark, constructed gracefully of layers of shuddering drum machine and dizzying bass riffs and drones (you’ll need headphones for this one).

It sounds like the summer you came home and everything had changed, someone else lived in your house, your friends had different eyes, the earth rolled differently beneath your feet. There are secrets everywhere that run thicker than water – “things I haven’t told you, you won’t believe,” Taylor sings, his voice mixed just right, never overpowered by pulsing organ, clattering percussion, and funky bass, natural as another instrument. The barely-there heartbeat, more a feeling than a sound, that lends a discreet toe-tapping metronome to the first half of “She Found a Way Out” (arguably the record’s strongest song) puts its inevitable explosion always at your fingertips – when it finally happens, it’s stunningly sexy, as those bass drones roll in like thunderclouds across some deep summer-green valley and Taylor’s voice drops two octaves into wavering auto-tune.

These are songs as heavy and claustrophobic as a foggy forest at dusk. Taylor’s voice is everywhere – “I want you close to this,” he sings like a plea and a threat on “Answer,” and you have no choice. Irresistible electronic melodies bubble up and follow you around, layered beneath tribal grooves and droning soundscapes, but never entirely forgotten.

You end up with a record that sounds like its cover looks, some brilliant and electrifying moment you look back on with a blurred nostalgia, something you dreamed, maybe, something too beautiful and terrible to have ever really happened. Dreams Come True distinguishes Chris Taylor as a songwriter whose creativity runs over.

Stream Can't Dreams Come True