Album Review: true that, by Michael Cera
by Nicole Howley | published Sep. 1st, 2014
Yes, you read that correctly. Michael Cera, the “Juno” actor and professional woman and child lookalike, came out with an album this summer. His 18-track, seven-dollar album is available for purchase or listening through bandcamp, and it might actually be worth your time. The album, and a few songs in particular, is surprisingly pleasant.
Cera seems to know more about music than expected, playing a variety of instruments and even trying his hand at vocals in a few songs – sometimes successfully, such as in the song “Clay Pidgens,” a Blaze Foley cover – other times not so much; see "ohNadine" (although his whistling skills are definitely top notch). He also experiments with cursing at the beginning of a few of his songs, including “Moving In” and “Sexy Danger”. It has a similar effect to hearing a young child do the same, where you don’t entirely approve but you can’t help being a bit proud of them for trying it out.
Much of the music on the album has an intentionally grainy sound quality but in an almost cool, Instagram filters-type way, reminiscent of the ‘90s lo-fi trend, most notably early Mountain Goats albums. With slower, indie-style songs with varying layers of instrumentals, the album overall sounds like a combination of lullabies and old carnival background music, in a good way.
Some songs take on this vibe successfully while others suffered a bit from an abundance of instrumental layers and not much sense, as shown in "What Gives". The songs where he kept the instrumentals simpler tend to be more pleasant, like the song “Of a Thursday”, composed simply on piano.
But I would say “2048” is the standout song of the album by far. Solely instrumental with a nice layering of instruments, it can totally be imagined as the soundtrack of some really adorable indie movie in that scene where the two main characters are running around the city climbing sculptures and running through the fountains and just smiling at each other before they know they are in love but you know they are about to realize it.
And that’s not the only song with an indie-movie-soundtrack quality. The song “Brat” is also really sweet, in the soundtrack-type way. With a grainy piano sound, it’s perfect for that indie couple’s first real date to that classy, vegan Italian restaurant where they discuss feelings and realize they are perfect for each other.
Overall, the gems in this album seem to outweigh the songs that fell short of par, not to mention that it’s fun to listen to what this movie star has to offer the musical realm.
For fans of: MGMT, indie movie soundtracks, Mountain Goats