Slow Dance for the Soul-Barer
Thrill Jockey Records
Los Angeles duo High Places are dressed in low frequencies and heavy percussion on Original Colors, finding their roots in electronic club sounds pushed through a deep, minimalist filter.
At times the beat buzzes and shifts, almost entering that bubble of pretension of post-dubstep, lingering in downtempo niches and complex rhythmic rumblings. Here there’s far more space however, when Mary Pearson’s voice echoes through the synth.
It’s Pearson’s voice that ties this whole record together, adding colour to instrumentals that would otherwise meld into an unmemorable, moody blur.
The production is something of a bass-heavy take on early Reznor, creating a tense framework for songs like “Sonora,” where simple melody drives an intoxicating kind of nonchalance, where the band can’t be bothered to show any unnecessary enthusiasm.
Despite that, they often engage, like in “Twenty-Seven,” where Pearson’s voice rises and multiplies from out of a plane of silence; a siren hidden among steady strobes. She descends upon the track as dark electronics hold sway, ethereal vocals that recall Zola Jesus or Braids under much more straightforward direction. It’s a deep, dark slow dance for the late-night crawl.
High Places / Nov. 15 / Il Motore (179 Jean Talon Rd.)
- Colin Harris
Coeur de Pirate
Grosse Boite Records
Quebec’s indie-pop sweetheart Coeur de Pirate, 22-year-old Montrealer Beatrice Martin, has released her sophomore album Blonde.
She still sings mostly in French, with her signature whimsical style still fully in place, enchanting Anglo and Franco listeners alike. Her lyrics are full of angst and soul-baring, but they are set on a light, breezy background reminiscent of ‘60s pop songs.
Martin’s sound is elegant—she is a classically trained pianist—and that distinct sound comes out in many of her songs, such as the melancholic “Place de La Republique.” Songs like “Golden Baby” and “Danse et Danse” feel more playful and modern, however.
The album is a reflection on a relationship, both of its ups and downs. It also signals a growing-up period for the artist. Blonde feels more refined and mature than Martin’s previous effort, which was released when she was only 18. The melodies are tight, and the vocals are woven in just so.
Blonde definitely won’t disappoint fans who have been eagerly waiting its release, and may just cement Martin’s place as a Canadian pop treasure.
- Alex McGill