Missing in Action: Review of the Cairo Gang’s “Goes Missing”

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If I ever had to choose one album that reminded me of summer road trips and bonfires on the beach under the influence of an indie flame, The Cairo Gang’s Goes Missing would probably be the first that comes to mind (although to be fair it has been on my mind a lot recently). Building on their 2013 short LP, Tiny Rebels and in stark contrast to their 2007 release, Twyxt Wyrd, The Cairo Gang’s latest album reveals nuanced yet vintage sound that perhaps transcends the acoustic two-dimensionality of their former creations, teetering on the edge between psychedelia and folk rock. With an album that splashes out like a reverberant reimaging of The Smiths with a sixties retro kink to it, it’s no wonder that their Facebook ‘about’ section expresses that their one and only band interest is “smokin’ weed.”

The lead singer Emmett Kelly’s voice has undoubtedly grown over the past few years, creating calming yet emotionally charged sounds, especially in unison with Bonnie “Prince” Billy in their collaborative album The Wonder Show of the World. Goes Missing on the other hand seems to be a playful move away from Kelly’s older compositions, as the Cali-born hipster introduces a new twist on the soothing evocativeness fans have come to know; and yet, the album seems to be a more refined version of their exploratory feel found in their 2006 self-titled album, which may or may not be a bad change depending on who’s listening. Apparently written “on the run” while travelling and in different atmospheres, the result is a mosaic of moods that come together in similar sounding songs which are rather hard to listen to repetitively, but flow well together to create a sensitive yet apathetic ambiance.

Album cover of the Cairo Gang's newest album, "Goes Missing".

Album cover of the Cairo Gang’s newest album, “Goes Missing”.

Perhaps purposefully lackluster, the album seems to be focused on emitting the feeling of lazy summer days and a type of distinct nostalgia, a simultaneous carelessness while something eating at the back of one’s mind: a feeling that is summarized in the albums opening song, “An Angel, A Wizard”: “our thoughts are free, our bodies trembling with fear.” Fresh off the stands and not mainstream enough to be widely discussed (a definite plus in the eyes of the “anti-establishment” youth), the written lyrics seem MIA across the forums, message boards and even YouTube has a void to be filled by Goes Missing, yet from what I can muster up from the audio tracks is that there seems to be a lot of promise in the more or less concrete realms of the album. Overall, Goes Missing is a testament to the band’s growth and modest in terms of sound with gems hidden amongst its clay, yet there still seems to be something missing from its creative arsenal.