New Releases Reviews

Album Review: Super Cassette’s LP ‘Continue?’

It's the last month of 2023 and Super Cassette have released what could be a late contender for album of the year.

The Oakland indie rock artist have just dropped their first official full length LP ‘Continue?‘ and we can’t let this gem sneak in quietly at the end of the year- it needs some fanfare!

This collection of 12 indie power-pop punk tracks detail an introspective look at depression and mental health struggles in an intimate manner that feels intensely  relatable. Beautiful keyboards and vocals with excellent vocal harmonies are the musical highlights of the album, but it’s the songwriting and storytelling that really set this album apart from its peers.

The first two singles from the album are also the first two tracks. We have the eponymous ‘Continue?‘ – which struggles with questions about whether life- especially as a musician trying to live off of your work- is worth living.

Path Through the Past‘ is a pessimistic look at how everything in life is interconnected, and how all good things come to an end. 

While I somewhat sadistically enjoy both of those songs, I feel like the best songwriting is in the third song, ‘Bones‘ (ironically, the first song off the album that was not a single in promotion of the album). ‘Bones‘ is about a deep ambivalence towards life, feeling like you don’t belong anywhere, and describes depression better than any song I’ve ever heard, all laid out by a singer Max Gerlock’s beautiful voice.

Lyrics like “I feel so homesick, but I’m already home and there’s nowhere to go” that feels intimately relatable. All through the song there are subtle, painful lyrics that reach into the soul, but nothing devastates as much as “I don’t wanna die but I don’t wanna be alive, and I don’t wanna be alive but I don’t wanna die and there’s nothing I can do”.

The first 6 songs before the interlude all deal with different aspects of depression, including a song about the dehumanisation of the daily grind – ‘9 to 5‘ (NOT a cover of the Dolly Parton song of the same name!) and a song about alcohol exacerbating your problems in ‘Ulcer‘.

The second side of the album immediately hits differently. The first track doesn’t seem to be related to mental health, as ‘Bastille Day’ is a song about the working class uniting and overthrowing capitalism. When viewed through the lens of ‘9 to 5‘, this could be seen as a metaphor for taking control of the causes for your depression and taking back control of your life. While I like to think of this song literally, I don’t doubt their intent in writing the song was as a metaphor. Aside from the powerful lyrics, this song also features some absolutely amazing guitar solos that form the best guitar parts on the entire album. They are flawlessly executed and placed perfectly in the album.

Someday‘ is a more hopeful song, not uplifting per se, but in this song there is the hope that someday things will be better. The song is still about being depressed, but this is just the second time on the album where the thought of happiness has been alluded to (also in ‘Ember‘).

But then we go straight into  ‘Ghost‘- about a friend who has lost their life and dealing with survivor’s guilt and remorse. The placement of this song on the album has the maximum impact because we were just given our first shreds of hope for something positive.

The final three songs introduce genuine positive feelings. The first of these is ‘Sliver‘, a song the feels like a new beginning. A sliver of hope shining through, a peace inside ourselves even when things are bad. What I love about this song is that there is no sudden happiness. Things didn’t magically get better. The world is still the same, but the way they choose to process the world is different- they are choosing to find peace despite the pain.

Islands‘ and ‘Continent‘ were originally written to be the same song. They are the antithesis of ‘Path Through the Past‘ which looks at the interconnectedness of the world, but instead of seeing the world pessimistically, here they see it with optimism. Bad things come to an end. People find happiness.

In ‘Islands‘, we get the lyric “a man’s not a point in time but a line through his life and the days added up to much more than the sum…” and “who I want to be, and who I hate are one”. These lyrics show an acceptance of the bad things that happen to us, but a willingness to look past it to see something more, something better.

Then, in ‘Continent‘ we get the most uplifting music through the whole album. Beautiful uptempo piano that feels warm and comforting as the album closes on a final positive chorus:

We don’t face this alone/The parts compose a whole/As planets, oceans bask in the sun/The islands warm as one”.

While no man is an island, we often feel isolated as one. This last perspective from the album brings hope to the table and makes the whole album give a promise that is easily overlooked if we don’t play through to the end. It’s beautiful, it’s powerful, and this album will sit with me for years to come.

Continue?‘ is out now. Stream or purchase HERE

  1. Continue?
  2. Path Through the Past
  3. Bones
  4. Ember
  5. 9 to 5
  6. Ulcer
  7. Interlude
  8. Bastille Day
  9. Someday
  10. Ghost
  11. Sliver
  12. Island 
  13. Continent 
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