When I heard that Michael Cera had released a surprise album on Bandcamp, my first thought was that it would be called Banana Stand and he would go by the stage name George Michael (Bluth), with “Bluth” in parentheses just like that. However, I wasn’t disappointed when I gave True That—the album’s real title—a listen and it turned out to be DIY folk pop. The best part: Michael Cera just sounds like a regular guy recording songs in his bedroom, which basically sums up Bandcamp artists in their entirety. True That may be getting press because of the famous name attached to it, but the album itself would eventually garner a following because it’s good in that obscure, The Pizza Underground way that collegiate hipsters love.
That being said, DIY can often translate into unpolished. And True That is about half polished and half unpolished. Cera includes dissonant, out of tune ditties like “uhohtrouble” and abrasive, lo-fi tunes like “Moving In” on the same record as a beautifully-done cover of singer-songwriter Blaze Foley’s “Clay Pigeons.” Being that these are the first three songs on the album, Cera baffles his listeners—is this album serious or a joke?
I suppose we can take Cera with a grain of salt. He may be a professional actor, but he’s not a professional musician. He tinkered around with some home recording stuff and a few melodies that he felt were good enough to release on the internet. And some of them truly are. Acoustic songs “Those Days” and “Too Much” come to mind immediately, particularly the latter. In fact, “Too Much” is completely instrumental, but manages to showcase Cera’s real melodic talent in its short three minutes and five seconds.
True That isn’t perfect, but it’s not meant to be. Cera’s only 26, he’s allowed to explore different facets of himself. If music’s one of those facets, so be it—he’s not half bad.