Album Reviews: April 29, 2019
Partner – Saturday the 14th (Sackville, New Brunswick)
As their goofy wit continues to make fans laugh, it's great to see Partner expanding into more varied instrumentation. Though this is definitely a simple and to-the-point record, Partner make songs you'll remember here. "Fun For Everyone" riffs on people's unreasonable hate towards the fun-loving Minions, all while playing with electronics and rock in a way reminiscent of early Le Tigre records. While the hooks of "Stoned Thought" is painfully corny, it serves as a much more directly comedic track from the band that lets the music serve this purpose over being catchy. The slow-burning drive of "Long and McQuade" hilariously mixes a love song feeling with typical Canadian rock star haunts, for a track that pulls a fast one on you every chorus. "Les Ailes D'un Ange" is a surprisingly straightforward and beautiful track, and though it's a hard left from the silly nature of the album, it's undoubtedly fun
Steve St. Pierre – Stubborn Romance EP (Ottawa)
Where many artists work can seem primitive through the limitations of lo-fi recordings, Steve St. Pierre finds a way to make this raw. This makes a track like "Marathon" feel all the more immediate and in your face, as the crackles of harsh gain can really make the song feel more aggressive than it would otherwise. Elsewhere "Homestead" lets the simple instrumentation breathe and sees the smaller details from the track playing a much larger role. Though there's a much more audible dissonance between these layers of the song on "I'm Getting High," St. Pierre manages to find an emotional core to play with on the song. While "All This Time" overdoes its outro a tad, there's such a rustic beauty in its composition that you'll be too relaxed to care.
Foxygen – Seeing Other People (Westlake Village, California)
As they elicit classic rock with their own kind of theatrics, Foxygen have maintained a certain unpredictability in their music. While it will certainly take some adjusting to get used to their more analogue electronic sound on this album, it's by far one of their coherent albums in a while. There's a mix of funk and industrial tones in "Work" as Foxygen take fans in a much more unorthodox direction than ever before, and with seemingly barebones tones to back them up. Somewhere between a 70's disco track and Alex Cameron's crooner pop lies "Mona," where their dark energy lays out for a groovy feel that doesn't quiet expand enough. Though songs like "Face The Facts" highlight how many great riffs and chord voicing concepts appear on this record, you can also feel like they're rarely given the proper attention to really shine over the track's quirky delivery. At least "News" does offer a much more cohesive Foxygen take old rock, only thrown into a lo-fi blender so that it works a lot better than going completely off the rails.
Jean Sauvé – Trailheads (Ottawa)
The productions of Jean Sauvé find a bridge between the world of mysterious pop and nature itself. As you listen to "Road to Nowhere" you'll find the airy qualities behind the song enhancing its unnerving sense of dread over and over again. While "A Life" takes a much simpler route in its straightforward production, Sauvé is able to reap a touching song from its subtle reverb. In the flowing background tones of "Bering Sea" it's easy to sink into a calm state before Sauvé pulls you back with his more metallic vocals. "Pathways" yearns with a much more settled feeling of pain, as Sauvé seems to be ready to move on, but not quite ready to forget why he hurts.
Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (New York City)
There's a kind of romanticism that when properly tapped into through pop can be magical rather than corny. Weyes Blood nails this energy on her new record for a wallop of a listen that will leave you mesmerized by its end, if not a little emotionally exhausted. Like Vera Lynn meets Elton John, "A Lot's Gonna Change" sweeps through you with a kind of familiar swing that lulls you into a hazy but lovely dance. This more floating tone continues into "Andromeda" as Weyes Blood is able to elevate her vocals only slightly in the production to create an otherworldly mystique around the music. Though "Something to Believe" doesn't immediately bring out this dynamic breadth, it's punchy chorus comes through explosively enough to make sure you'll never forget it. As the sun sets into the downbeat drive of "Picture Me Better" there's a heavy sense of yearning in the vocals and lets all the soft instrumentation of the song service the song subtly.