By Pras RajagopalanThose familiar with Montreal’s Think About Life will know that their hallmark is buoyant exuberance. Their live shows are renowned for their sweaty intensity and propensity to unite audiences in a wet, sticky mass. TAL member Graham Van Pelt, under the moniker of Miracle Fortress, has opted to take a break from this extroverted excess to put out this subdued album. Judging by the results, he can pine as elegantly and effortlessly as he can party. At their skeletal essence, these are simple, tuneful songs, yet they’re exquisitely textured (taking many cues from recluse extraordinaire Brian Wilson) in a way that emphasises their inherent sweetness. Harmonies, keyboards and guitar conspire to create wispy beds of melody, which when combined with Van Pelt’s direct lyrics, captivatingly depict those doubts and insecurities that linger unacknowledged. Rhythmically, there’s not much more than spare bass drum thumps and odd tambourine rattles anchoring it. Avoiding the temptation for a fuller rhythm section does prove to be the right choice though, as the spartan set up provides a lulling, hypnotic heartbeat to the dreamy atmospherics of this record. When you finally do allow yourself to be enveloped in Five Roses’ affecting fog, you will find yourself wistfully enthralled and completely won over.
(Secret City, www.secretcityrecords.com) (Secret City)