Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Album Review: Land of Talk, Some Are Lakes

Montreal's Land of Talk achieves a kind of musical suspension of disbelief with their full-length debut, Some Are Lakes. From in-your-face start, "Yuppy Flu," to the heartfelt, "Troubled" finish, it's easy to lose yourself in this curious ten-song collection that lives up to the band's name; Some Are Lakes' origins lie in a land far away from here.

Though they make it look easy, LoT paces each song with expert precision. Like a poet utilizes each syllable, they take care that each riff, phrase and break resonates with purpose. On "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)," things are breaking at every deafening drumbeat and cymbal crash. In the same vain, a hook has never embodied somber resignation so much as it does on the title track. With a chord progression that savors of disappointment, lead singer Liz Powell wearily resolves, "And I'll love you like I love you / Then I'll die." If Powell is the narrator, the music tells the other half of the story, complimenting her at every unpredictable twist.

The upbeat, pleading "Young Bridge" picks up where EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss's "Speak to Me Bones" left off. However, where Powell's frustration was voiced with volume and noise on the EP, it's translated into a calmer, less rushed animal here. Still, the passion and urgency has not been lost. In fact, it may be more apparent than ever, especially on "Give Me Back My Heart Attack" where raging guitars are preceded with a dangerous, "But sleeping out of key / Only f*cks the waking world!"

The distorted guitars and far-off vocals echo a certain other Canadian troop of art rockers, which can only be a compliment (LoT is currently opening for Broken Social Scene). The two bands share a dreamy yet passionate, pressing sound that speaks to the very souls of us; each song is life or death! Literally, the topic of death seems to be a recurring theme ("Death by Fire," anyone?) only matched by the hopeful idealism behind such lines as, "Didn't I tell you there was no such thing as a bad bad day? / And baby, even if there was, I won't believe it anyway."

The band's maturation is most evident on the album's closer, "Troubled," an intimate acoustic number. Powell's voice was born for this; her vulnerable vocals devastate, half sung in French over a haunting instrumental backdrop. The song slowly builds until it goes out like a lone flame in the dark, and Powell seems to wince at each painful word: "Troubled heart folded / And doubled right over...."

Some Are Lakes plays like the most precious secrets being whispered in your ear; listen closely and you might make some profound discoveries. It may be a bit of a downer at times, but such is the nature of the tragedy and wonder of truth in a song.

- Jessy Bartlett

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