There's a telltale sentence circulating with press materials attached to Cheap Time's second LP: "Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations) will surely surprise, divide and leave fans scratching their heads as to where Cheap Time will go next!" Presumably it'll be the divide part of this statement that will be the most often invoked. Cheap Time's first LP seemed to come out of nowhere, having only released one prior single that couldn't predict its explosive arrival by a long shot. The album was raw and glam, bubblegum and snotty and irreverent. It felt like the best of its influences without retreading them to death. The follow-up to their debut lacks a bit of its chaotic charisma, which may certainly work to its disadvantage. Its a much more well-crafted album, for sure. The songs themselves are layered with a benevolent reverence to power pop forefathers and the mixing was even done by Earle Mankey who spent time as a guitarist in Sparks and recorded albums by The Quick and Concrete Blonde. Mankey is certainly the right choice for the band's transition into a more mature sound, but I'm sure that many who loved Cheap Time's debut may not be ready for any transition, mature or not.
Sophomore albums always pose a catch-22; retread the first and they'll say you haven't got any new ideas, change and they say you've lost touch with what they loved in the first place. Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations) is a logical, if less immediately satisfying step for the band and the garage-punk following is fickle. Some will be quick to dismiss it, but once the kernel is cracked the album reveals a richness that's laudable. However even I have a feeling that I will keep returning to the debut more often than its spawn, despite these admirable qualities.
[MP3] Cheap Time - June Child
[MP3] Cheap Time - Down the Tube
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