It’s not nonsense to say Cashmere Cat was one of the first to dabble in exaggerated, some would say ‘hyperkinetic,’ electronic pop around the time the genre was merely incubating. In 2012, the Norwegian producer released his first EP, Mirror Maru, where he cross contaminated swirls of piano with arbitrary hip-hop beats. He continued to do the same thing in 2014’s Wedding Bells, his second EP. And both relied heavily on being unpredictable and experimental. However, with the release of debut album, 9, Magnus August Høiberg held loosely to his previous experimentations, and cemented what was left of them with quite an elaborate pop gathering. The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Camila Cabello, and MØ are among the featured collaborators. It’s not so much the choice of names Magnus brought aboard; but it is how none of them added anything idiosyncratic to their respective tracks. In actuality, the voices are caked up with so much distortion, they’re barely recognizable, and could’ve easily been replaced with unknowns.
“Victoria’s Veil” is the only standout, as it’s the only track that doesn’t feature anyone and isn’t limited by pop’s generic capabilities. Its ambient base is heavily textured with smatterings of beeps and squeaks, making for a fun festival showing or nightly drive. “Night Night” featuring Kehlani and “Europa Pools” featuring Kacy Hill slightly fall in the same box, since the artists featured are mostly used as additional synth. Neither of these are seriously hindered by Cashmere Cat’s covet to achieve what SOPHIE did with Charli XCX.
“9 (After Coachella)” featuring MØ is perhaps the worst of the bunch and includes a pointless Coachella tag tacked on to the end of it. It’s obvious that SOPHIE didn’t mash well with Høiberg’s approach. Both produce similar music and if SOPHIE had taken full reigns over the album’s title track, it would’ve been different. However, on the second SOPHIE-assisted track, “Love Incredible,” Høiberg limits the co-producer’s PC Music aesthetic and essentially strings together boring synth and boxing beats all to showcase unimpressive lyrics.
On the other side of the spectrum, when Cashmere Cat is the sole producer, complex rhythms are virtually seized off. The production behind “Trust Nobody” simply repeats a synth bop and beat underneath Gomez’s talking vocals, while ignoring the need to differentiate in choruses or rap breaks–leaving them, the chorus in particular, non-existent. He slightly deviates from this structure in “Quit” featuring Grande by utilizing flute-like synth and cow bells to ruffle the generic-ness that it, nevertheless, exudes. However, the production still submits itself below the power of the name vocals.
Cashmere Cat faces confusion between the aesthetic he originated and how to toss it over mainstream lines. It’s a bizarre compilation with absolutely no concept and feels like a badly-run factory on the verge of explosion, or perhaps a strike. He sacrifices the musical aspect in most of the album, likely because he was afraid to overshadow the big artists. But in the end, he does them, and mostly himself, a huge disservice. EH.