Friday, October 2, 2009

Still Life Still

Girls Come Too (Arts and Crafts, 09.09)

For: Broken Social Scene, Ivory Coast, Sundays Best

Byline: Impressive debut by these young Canuks blast out some serious Indie-Erotica under the tutelage of Kevin Drew Originally published on Used by permission from
In Your Speakers Media LLC

There are just some albums you can’t listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Black Flag’s Damaged is one of them. Still Life Still’s Girls Come Too is another. On first blush there is really no reason why Toronto’s newest addition to the Arts and Crafts label shouldn’t fit in between naps and Miyazaki films. They possess the same luscious, mid-tempo instrumentation and understated vocal melodies of most artists on Arts and Crafts. Still Life Still has an undeniable talent for creating lush soundscapes that plumb an almost impossible aural depth that is inexplicably stuck between the two poles of low and high fidelity. Sounds like something to kick back to and enjoy the last few nice days right? Well, I don’t know about you but post-adolescent sexual frustration is my life 6 out of the 7 days of the week. Sunday, I need a break. (Just kidding. I am a newly wed.)

Still Life Still wraps a persistent sense of sexual urgency in a shimmering cloak of post-emo, mid-nineties indie rock innocence. I immediately start thinking of criminally overlooked bands that filled up Polyvinyl’s roster in the mid-nineties like The Ivory Coast, Sunday’s Best, Paris, Texas, etc… Dancy tempos, stop-start chord progressions, jangly verse-chorus change ups, and epic breakdowns find a comfortable home with some of those mid-western forgotten icons. Girls Come Too openers “Danse Cave” and “Flowers and a Wreath" start off with break-neck urgency and immediacy before peaking over and over in starry-eyed moments of pure pop bliss that channel crescendo-horders Passion Pit and fellow A&C bedmates Stars. This is pretty par for the course on a majority of songs on the album. Brendan Saarinen’s delicate grasp on bitter nostalgia on “Kid” is a fragile ballad that is a welcome peek into the depth of the bands songwriting chops. Brendan Saarinen’s voice recalls traits of Francois Virot, Noah Lennox, and Dismemberment Plan’s Travis Morrison.

Driving these crescendos, as well as the force majeure that interjects itself, often stopping a track dead in its tracks, is the Henry Miller-like sexual starkness that rears it’s head in two ways. First, there is an underlying “indie-eroticism”; a downright sexy swing that is the aural equivalent of a “come-hither” stare. “Planets” is as close to a slow jam as Canadian Indie Rock will ever come. The other side of the coin, however, is slightly more mis-directed. You know your couple-friends who “talk openly” about their sexual relationship? You know how awkward and uncalled for it is? Well, “T-Shirts” has a line that, albeit real, would be an absolute conversation killer. It took a few more listens to convinced me that like some 2 minute odes to how messy love actually is, some youthful indiscretions should be overlooked.

In a way, what would you expect of a band under the tutelage of producer and Broken Social Scene Auteur Kevin Drew. Need I remind you what “Lovers Spit” is really about? Or remind you of lines in “TBTF” or “It’s All Gonna Break”? Well, those are fantastic songs, right? They stand alone as amazing tracks, besides some real creepy stuff going on in the subtext. This is exactly how Girls Come Too should be approached. The sacred is mixed with the profane with ease and grace. The sexed up romp has an incredibly moody and moving break down. The moving ballad recounts with equal feeling parental spousal infidelity and grade school hyper-awareness of the difference between girls and boys. Girls Come Too has too many incredible moves to justify a Tipper Gore like qualifier before totally falling in love with this album. This is one come-on you should totally give into.

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