Casiotone For The Painfully Alone is a band with a gloriously descriptive name—the work of a charmingly depressed film school dropout named Owen Ashworth, who composes love songs on answering machines and toy keyboards. The idea may make you roll your eyes, but there’s something about all these snippets of suburban heartbreak that leaves a poignant mark next to your Morrissey shrine in your head.
Advance Base Battery Life is a collection of material not released on any of Owen’s other full-length records. It’s a hodgepodge of EP songs, unreleased material, alternate takes, and one new song, but it still forms a pretty accurate picture of the band’s aesthetic—simple songs, constructed around thwacking drumbeats and droning keyboard chords, with lots of distortion and effects for good measure. It’s a very interesting sound, and although many of the songs are recorded pretty cheaply, a heartbreaking honesty shines through and makes it a worthwhile listen.
Advance Base Battery Life isn’t the best introduction to Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s music —some of these songs are more experimental than others, and those expecting shimmery, slick pop music may be turned off by the songs’ raw production. The gems that are included, however, are probably some of the best electronic pop songs being written and released by any artist today. It’s like a virtuoso violinist playing in the subway. The songs may be basic and noisy, but it’s this simplicity that makes them poignant, elegant, and even a little bit timeless.