Published Aug 27, 2020Certain records just reek of summer — hot pavement, bonfire smoke, cut grass and weed. Casual Fitness, the sophomore record from Calgary's John Lost and the Cause, is one such record – It's a languid and hazy place, a golden hour that never deepens into dusk.
John Lost and the Cause is the work of Bennett Mitchell, a songwriter who specializes in folky, jazz-laced lounge. Those familiar with 2018's Chamomile won't find many surprises on Casual Fitness. It's a refining of his sound rather than some grand upheaval, a more detailed, inventive and bright-eyed record than what came before. Produced with Eric Cinnamon, Casual Fitness retains the rickety, lived-in warmth of Mitchell's previous record, but it nonetheless feels more polished and spacious — the grooves are smoother, the melodies stronger, the sounds more varied.
For a record destined to soundtrack late august drives and backyard barbeques, it's fitting that one of its best songs is the pillowy "Summertime City." The back half of the record is stronger in general than the first, housing most of its glimmering highlights — the buzzing "Mama," the drum-machine and synth groove of "The Hit" and closer "Best, the Boy You Loved" home to Mitchell's simplest, strongest melody.
Mitchell's conversational warble and floating falsetto lead the way through these snaking arrangements, a narrator in the thralls of romance and heartbreak who nonetheless finds clarity and calm within. The title, the lounging-in-underwear artwork, the relaxed pace — Casual Fitness is a laid-back journey of the senses, a sleepy-eyed exploration of falling in love and the ways it changes us. (Independent)