The four years between ‘Live It Out’ and this new, self-released album have seen a change come over the Canadian quartet. The production here is tighter than ever, but their music plays it safer than before. When their melodies took the road less travelled, there was room to be amazed by the balancing act the band performed in keeping them tuneful; their chord choices were played riskily but the gambling paid off. Perhaps the challenging, near atonality of some of the songs on Emily Haine’s solo record has encouraged her to move towards the more straight forward compositions found here– or maybe a bid to cash in their stadium indie credit for the big time.
‘Gimme Sympathy’, the obvious contendor for breakthrough single which namechecks The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, seems to reflect this. “Stay away from the hooks/ all the chances we took” Haine’s sings, before pleading “play me something like ‘Here Comes The Sun’”. ‘Satellite Mind’ is another great track, marrying soaring vocals to a guitar led chorus that rises and falls like a car shifting gears.
The pet lyrical themes of modern discontentment return in full force with materialism, alienation and the trappings of fame all present and correct. ‘Gold Guns Girls’, presumably the pitch for the next James Bond, takes no prisoners, “Is it ever gonna be enough?” she asks, while Front Row deals with the brain dead idolatry of rock icons, “burned out stars they shine so bright”. For the standout track you have to look to the more muted ‘Collect Call’, a subtle and infectious bit of electropop. The production is spot on, giving Haine’s hushed vocals just enough room to breath between elegant synths and distant guitar.
‘Fantasies’ succeeds in balancing this sort of sleek, low-key crooning with hook-laden pop songs. The fantasy here is that they would be laying seige to the charts, but for the reality of public ignorance.