"It's important in life if you don't give a shit. It can help you a lot."
These words, spoken by George Carlin, appear in a brief clip near the beginning of Vancouver songwriter Devin Miller's debut album as Cascade Falls. It's a sage piece of advice, but one that the Vancouver songwriter — who also fronts the pop-rock band Reef Shark — doesn't seem particularly good at following. Clouds Change, Nostalgia Stays the Same is a sprawling, meticulously crafted album that contains nearly an hour of swooning, synth-hazed jangle-pop. Some listeners might find it a little bloated, but no one will ever accuse Miller of not giving a shit.
The 15 tracks are, without exception, beautifully crafted and powerfully sung. The organic-sounding rock numbers are replete with chiming guitars and baroque pianos, while the electro-leaning numbers are laden with gauzy synth pads and sputtering drum machines. It's all very lovely, but the uniformly wistful mood means that the songs begin to blend into one another by the end.
This is a shame, since the record is back-loaded with some of its best tracks: the eight-minute "Eyes Might Wander" swells to a sublimely cinematic crescendo, "You're the Last One" contains the catchiest of the album's ascendant choruses and "I'd Lie to You" is the most touching dreamscape.
Maybe, if Miller had given less of a shit, he could have been less precious about the material and tossed some of it on the cutting room floor. Were Clouds Change, Nostalgia Stays the Same a little shorter, its elegant beauty might be easier to absorb. Still, it's hard to fault him for giving us too much of a good thing. (Oscar St. Records)