A lot of elements go into CAIRO's music. The most immediately obvious from the title track which opens the record is the nibble, shimmering guitar. They add a strong melody to the expansive sound, making "With You" almost destined to be in a car commercial. The mumbled vocals of "Render" make it sound inspired by The National.
A rock solid bottom end packs a wallop. Tumbling drums and bass on "Age/Sex/Race" and the beefiness of "One at a Time" serve to ground otherwise wafting tracks.
Middle Eastern rhythms make an appearance as well, which you would expect from a band named CAIRO. Often, such as on "Extinguishing Fires", those rhythms are reminiscent of the Tea Party. They are at their best, however, when they mix with forceful guitar. The result is a song like "Kingdoms" that holds a mystical air while being spiked with rock oomph.
The slower, more reflective songs are hit and miss. The album closer "Nothing" has just enough twang to make it sound like Grant-Lee Buffalo, while "Words and Meaning" is fine, but nothing special. The strings that adorn "Seventeen" make it a heartfelt standout.
CAIRO plays Lee's Palace in Toronto on February 20th.
Best tracks: "With You", "A History of Reason"
Track listing for A History of Reason:
- A History of Reason
- With You
- One at a Time
- Starry Eyes
- Extinguishing Fires
- Words and Meaning