Cass McCombs


(4AD; 2005)

By Christopher Alexander | 21 October 2007

Man Drowns in Ocean of Reverb
Singer Unable to Float above Morass of Dated Production; Weighted Down by Cumbersome Influences and Mediocre Songwriting
National News by Christopher Alexander

BALTIMORE, Md - Tragedy struck yesterday when a young musician vanished, sinking underneath an impenetrable fog of reverb and echo effects.

Authorities said that they believed that Cass McCombs, age unknown, drowned while writing and performing an album called PREfection. Renowned rock journalist Christopher Alexander, the first witness on the scene, admitted in a press conference that details were speculative. “What is certain is that Mr. McCombs was seen swimming in treacherous waters that hadn’t been treaded since the 1980s by the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Echo and the Bunnymen. I can characterize these waters as being very dense, gauzy, and ethereal, which makes individual instruments very hard to make out.”

Alexander went on to explain that some singers find swimming here useful, since it helps mask a limited vocal range and timber. “In my expert opinion, I think this is the case with Mr. McCombs,” he said.

“The channel has been thoroughly traveled, almost to the point of exhausting it,” he went on. “So by the time [McCombs] got there, it wasn’t very deep at all. What I think happened next is that he became weighted by his lackluster songs, all of which are hardly distinguishable from those aforementioned bands. It happens all the time, unfortunately.”

“I blame myself,” Emergency Medical Services operator Clayton Purdom said at the conference. “I responded to an emergency call, but when I came to the scene I thought someone was just listening to Psychocandy through bad speakers. I didn’t realize a man was drowning.”

When pressed, Alexander expressed tentative praise for McCombs. “I sort-of liked how the coda to ‘Tourist Woman’ sounds like ‘Brain Damage’ by Pink Floyd. That was unexpected. And the single ‘Sacred Heart’ was respectable, too.” He then started to tell the assembled journalists a rambling anecdote about a high-school friend’s attractive older sister, who had introduced him to British college-rock. Purdom cut him off, however, and reminded him of his publication’s ordinance against attaching feelings to criticism.

“Well, it’s still catchy,” Alexander bitterly retorted. He then played the album for the reporters. “See for yourself,” he said.

Chief of Police Scott Reid made a tardy entrance to the conference. “My God,” he exclaimed, “I didn’t know it was here! I thought some blogger was playing inferior Disintegration B-Sides, or something!” The album’s thirteen-minute finale, a laborious piece entitled “All Your Dreams May Come True,” had come on the stereo, however, and neither Alexander nor Purdom could be roused from sleep.

Once the record had finished, Alexander explained to Reid that McCombs was an artist on 4AD Records. “No!” Reid responded mockingly. “You don’t say! You mean to say that this is put out by the same label that housed Dead Can Dance and The Cocteau Twins? Get out of town! That’s definitely something I wouldn’t be able to tell just by listening to the damn thing! Thanks, Captain Obvious, we’d be lost without you!”

The Associated Press and contributed to this story