Album Reviews: August 27, 2018

Interpol – Marauder (New York City)

Over the years, Interpol has become such a distinct body as a New York band that they could have easily become a legacy act without anyone getting too upset. However for their latest album, the sleekly-dressed band decidedly balances out a sharp new pop direction with some explorative new sounds. From the outset, Interpol feels like a new band in the loud triumphant energy of "If You Really Love Nothing" as they slowly shift the ambient undertones behind it all. They hit their pop peak on "The Rover" with infectious choruses and a deceptively stripped-down sound that only makes their little vocal affectations stand out more. Interpol's blend of sounds is showcased best on "Flight Of Fancy" however where their rich guitar writing is contrasted beautifully with newfound synth wonder. "NYSMAW" alternatively offers up a much newer face to their sounds as they make something surprisingly catchy out of familiar ideas.

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Conyer Clayton and Nathanael Larochette – If The River Stood Still  (Ottawa)

Looking at loss can be hard, but art allows us to see it in ways we never imagined and somehow find a little solace. With a thematic view through nature itself, the record provides us a take on death that feels heartwarming. With natural aquatic sounds setting the tone for the record, "Undergrowth" comes off as a soundtrack to the outdoors itself, and the serene beauty it offers us. "Vegetables" opens up more interpretation through its spoken poetry reflecting not only real mean greens but the people we lose to mental trauma. Though it hits a samey feel musically, "Recurrent" sees Clayton and Larochette start to broaden their mix of words and guitars into a conversation within the songs themselves. In the midst of all of this, "Light" seems to follow a tale of loss from all the missed moments and not the ones we look back to and smile.

Dizzy – Baby Teeth (Oshawa)

If you got to see Dizzy on their early tours in the past year or so, you already know how potent their writing can be. On their debut record, the group brings indie sensibilities to strong pop cores for music that is rarely predictable. "Stars and Moons" sets things off on a more ominous crawl of keyboards, as they bring confrontational energy to familiar writing. They hit their first addictive hit on "Swim" with a song just as inviting as it full of character, while its vocal lines make for an ever-flowing stream of melodies. Even with some typical guitar tones on "Calico" they really turn introspectively to make the most of their sparse production. Despite this they still manage expansive and rushing energy on "Bleachers" where their electronics take their music into explorative new realms. 

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ICE WAR – First Four Singles (Ottawa)

Without the overt punk of much of Ottawa's Rock scene, Ice War stands out as a metal act that brings modern sensibilities to vintage timbres. "Battlezone" roars with a frantic and inviting cry, as guitars grind out to ferocious but sparse arrangements. The drums bring a lot more energy however on "This Was Our Home," as the band's combination of echoing cries and thrashing riffs hit a new high. Everyone tightens up for powerful hits of sound on "Dream Spirit" that takes all the fun and pointed delivery of riff-rock and brings a clever writing to it. "Immortal Count" feels much more occult in its heavy and theatrical performances that see the vocal so over the top you'll either be singing along or a little put off.

Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today (St. Louis, Missouri)

With more synths than before, Death Cab For Cutie have continued their run of keeping fans on their toes. Though they definitely bring a fresh sound to the table, their writing isn't always consistent enough to make the album quite as interesting. "I Dreamt We Spoke Again" does bring a calm energy to introduce listeners to the album's ambient sounds before ramping up the energy. Through "Summer Years" they get loud and energetic, with a fun pop hook looming around every corner. Death Cab get exceptionally quirky however on "Gold Rush" by mixing weird synth tones with subtle sound-work to make a song catchy and layered with fun extras. Another great rush of energy hits on "Northern Lights" where handfuls of riffs come at listeners and their vocals hit a new and ecstatic peak.