On the debut LP from Cassettes, Wild Heart is an earnest love letter to the 90’s era of pop-rock that dominated the airwaves. The five-piece band from Philadelphia shows a ton of promise on this debut record that was co-produced by Ace Enders (The Early November) and Nik Bruzzese (Man Overboard), and was carefully mixed by Vince Ratti (The Wonder Years). This album features a wide range of summery vibes and good times that finds the band reminiscing while still keeping an eye on the future.
Starting off the set with the sugary sweet “She Gets What She Wants,” front-man and guitarist Matt DiStefano sets the tone early on what Cassettes are all about: guitar-driven pop rock from the heart. My initial impression of the band reminded me of the early pop-rock efforts of bands such as Fenix TX, All Time Low, and Allister. Comparisons aside, there is plenty of great tunes to be found on this debut that can stand on its own merit. The second track, “I Wanna Know” picks up the tempo a bit from the opener and showcases the unique textures that Cassettes are bringing to the music scene.
The lead single from Wild Heart, “Born in the 90’s” continues the tribute to the era of pop-rock on the radio and pays homage to many of the artists that influenced the band’s sound. The single itself rocks like a modern “Summer of ’69” and seems destined for prime placement on Top 40 radio. The dual guitar attack from DiStefano and Jim Fox takes center stage on the shiny track while the other musicians, such as keyboardist Chris Hill, pick their spots to enhance the sound coming through the speakers.
The ballad “Love Songs on the Radio” finds Cassettes with their heart on their sleeves when DiStefano sings on the chorus, “So tell me who you think about/When you hear love songs on the radio/Tell me who you think about/When you wake up in a cold sweat wondering what do we really know.” While the band does not stray too far from the bands that they are clearly influenced by, the cohesive LP is a fun reminder of what makes pop-rock such an enjoyable listening experience in the first place. Cassettes love for pop rock is infectious, and it’s hard not to get absorbed in their approach to songwriting.
“Terrible Hair” features a nice piano intro from Hill and some well-placed saxophone throughout the song to bring some more depth to their sound. The driving bass line from Joe Robinson and clever drum fills from Sean Ward also come through nicely on this particular track. Other songs such as “The One” and “Mother Theresa” continue the formula that Cassettes have perfected on their debut, and round out the record with some nice breakdowns. On the latter track, the harmonies from DiStefano and Hill sound great, polished, and professional to another standout song from the Philadelphia five-piece.
The closing track, “Huey Lewis & The Blues” is the perfect bookend to a collection of songs that are over before you know it, clocking in at just over 36 minutes. The brilliant guitar soloing from Fox is a nice treat for the listener that finds Cassettes in more of a jamming state than in any of the other songs found on the debut. The track shows that these five musicians have not only great chops, but also a very bright future ahead of themselves.