Cash Cash stake their claim with ‘Blood, Sweat, & 3 Years’ [Album Review]
Five years ago Jean Paul Makhlouf, Alex Makhlouf, Samuel Frisch were just three Cobra Starship wannabes from New Jersey doing regional Hot Topic in-stores and burning legal notices concerning their troublingly un-trademarked moniker ‘The Consequence.’ An off the cuff name change—“Everyone was after our cash, and we didn’t have any yet.”—and a breakout hit later, the trio are poised to dominate EDM markets for the foreseeable future.
Blood, Sweat, & 3 Years is the trio’s fourth studio album, but the first to follow their deft sonic pivot into EDM territory. In a largely single-dominated market where an EP can seem egregious, Cash Cash have stunned with a 16 track LP. Perhaps more shockingly, it’s all really good.
It’s so easy to see how Cash Cash have amassed a staunch cult following in the titular three years since the Bebe Rexha featuring “Take Me Home” shot off. Their pop production bona fides are undeniable. Credits include Icona Pop, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry releases. Unlike those artists though, the trio doesn’t suffer from the production shuffle that can leave greater gaps between the good and the bad on a record. Instead, Cash Cash have delivered a quality pop music release on which any song could be a confetti-drenched closer.
Quality collaborators include “Fitz” of nostalgia fetishizing indie rockers Fitz & the Tantrums, Christina Perri, and even John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls fame. It’s near impossible to imagine any kind of effort from such a stacked line up as a tough pill to swallow — especially when coated in the saccharine EDM dancepop the trio have perfected.
Of course, there are a few weak spots. Once you’ve heard Country Grammar, for example, it would be hard to stomach Nelly’s cringeworthy turn on “Millionaire.” It’s a whitewashing of the rapper’s sometimes gritty and often wryly wrought vocal style, complete with a gang of bland voices sing-saying the hook–pure Coke commercial fodder. “Devil” feels similarly hollow with a sanitized inauthenticity despite verses from the inimitable Busta Rhymes and flat-Earth truther B.o.B.
“The Gun” featuring Trinidad James, Dev, & vine-celeb-cum-next-Sam-Smith Chrish is a more genuine crossover. The features light up the song with tongue in cheek lyricism and hushed production that smacks of mid-2000s hip hop. Bada Boom and Escarole, a pair of big room numbers, defy the sentimental formula that pervades the rest of the album. Either of these tracks might be at home as a Spinnin’ release or peak hours choice by a nimble Dutchman at any club in the Hakkasan franchise.
In many places, the trio’s history as a “real” band is on full display. The song arrangement and staccato synth melody in the Christina Perri featuring “Hero” has a Roland Juno-esque analog warmth and an organic rhythmic variety. Similarly, mixing and mastering efforts on Rzeznik’s rich vocal stems in “Lightning” suggest an attention to detail—audible vocal fry!—missing from most radio ready EDM like Rihanna’s inhumanly thin and choppily looped “This Is What You Came For” hook.
Even songs that seem disparate in places (“Bada Boom” and the cool R&B on “Sweat” are second cousins at best) are firmly strung together with a sedative thread of pop music production.
Did the album have to contain all 16 tracks? Baldly, no. But even the record’s few weak tracks are, at worst, remixable. All in all, it’s a valiant and entirely commendable effort deserving of the likely endless airplay and festival support it will receive all summer long.
Dont Miss: The sublimely subdued “Sweat,” nuanced piano banger “How to Love,” the lovable oddity that is “The Gun,” future festival staple “Aftershock”
Blood, Sweat, & 3 Years is out now via Big Beat Records.