Cast's songs are historically four-chord strums, nicey-nicey middle-of-the-road tunes like 'Sandstorm' and 'Flying', which have, along with songs from other re-formed Britpop acts, inspired practically every band that's gone down the road of indie guitar music in the last 20 years. Troubled Times is not at all a progression from what the band have done before, but song titles such as 'Brother Fighting Brother' and 'Time Bomb' are possibly reflecting a more realistic side of their relationships.Looking at a lot of bands who put out album after album, however, do they ever change their sound dramatically? Not really. With the producing skills of John Leckie again, this is Cast's fifth album, their first in 10 years, and with their original line-up of John Power (guitar/vocals), Liam 'Skin' Tyson (lead guitar), Pete Wilkinson (bass) and Keith O'Neill (drums). It, thankfully, has all the elements that their last four albums had: the bouncy acoustic strumming over O'Neill's pretty, varied and skillful drumming; vocal harmonies led by Power blatantly being all Beatles-like, making you want to bounce your head in time. Starting with 'Bow Down', very typically Cast, the rest of the tracks are vibrant and fun, sing-along-reliable, with good musicianship and harmonious vibes, nothing dour and gloomy. particularly stand-out is 'A Boy Like Me'.So that's that - it's a Cast album. No point in ripping apart every track, there's no boundary pushing, no new cutting edge orchestration, just good, reliable guitar music from a band with a good, reliable sound. And something much more listenable than Liam 'Squawky' Gallagher's offensive try-hard Beady Eye too.
Troubled Times sounds like Cast in terms of the vocals and the easily identifiable guitar work, but not in style or spirit. Yes they take from the retro sixties influence that Britpop always did, but it lacks life and depth. Lyrics are melancholy, and you can't imagine one track being a live hit for their tour this year - 'Bow Down', as an opener is simply just average.Ten years on, and what you have is an older band, struggling. 'Bad Waters' screams out middle aged band playing in a pub somewhere on a Wednesday night. They're out of touch and showing their age. Maybe that's a little unfair. There are a few tracks offering a little hope. If I was in an average pub live music night, then I would probably listen to them in the background. I would never believe their nineties success though.To go back to my younger colleague who doesn't remember Cast - Have they done anything to support my argument that he should? Not really. Surviving this come back trend is dependent upon relating to your audience, both old and new. I'm not sure a new audience will really care, and the old audience would prefer the old classics.