For their first LP, #1 Hit Single, CENDE abandons their simpler pop-punk approach for a genre defying journey through all things alternative. This Brooklyn-based quartet (made up of Dave Medina, Cameron Wisch, Greg Rutkin, and Bernard Cassidy) has evolved their sound into something more mainstream, polished, and even experimental at times, landing them somewhere in the realm of The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. The punk influence is still there, but definitely toned down in the face of intricate guitar lines, flowing vocals, and danceable beats. Through Double Double Whammy, CENDE has put forth an indie album that stays true to its roots while experimenting with a sound you’d be hard pressed to even nail down, let alone find anywhere else.
#1 Hit Single begins with “Bed,” an angsty, yet mellow track dealing with the realities of depression while in a relationship. Lyrics like, “I get into bed / I can’t get out / I’m the only one that I can let down” and “you’ll be better off when I’m alone” hit all too close to home for anyone’s who’s suffered through such feelings of inadequacy that even the simplest of tasks become an impossible chore. “What I Want” finds CENDE exploring new elements, such as orchestrated strings and synth and an almost psychedelic sound. The song closes with a minute-long experimental breakdown, reminiscent of something you’d hear on a Flaming Lips track. We even find the distortion turned up on songs like “Erase the Line,” giving it a shoegaze vibe at times. Finally, I want to talk about my favorite piece on this LP- the second track, “Don’t Want To.” It’s fast, punky, under 2 minutes, and features some majorly sick guitar work. Not only does the song feel right at home on #1 Hit Single, it could easily be featured on any folk-punk compilation, proving that as much as their sound has evolved from EP to LP, CENDE could still pump out an upbeat banger every now and again.
Overall, I really dig this record. It manages to cross genre lines often, sometimes in the same song, while remaining nothing but CENDE, through and through. The one thing that really stands out to me, and does a great job of holding the record together through so many changes, is the drums. Not because there’s any sort of progressive, Neil Peart style solos, or an excessively large kit backing tracks with wind chimes and bongos, because there’s neither of those things. It’s rather the consistency and poignant sound of every snare and bass beat. Despite what else is going on the song, the dance-punk style drums will keep you moving for the duration of the record. Whether you’re just chilling out on the couch or looking to groove out on the dance floor, CENDE’s #1 Hit Single will keep the beat you’re looking for.
Steam #1 Hit Single below: