Ahh, Brookside Mall. A dreary shopping complex perched atop the steep streets of uptown Fredericton. A place where university students and townies alike wile the hours away in an all too sleepy city.
By taking their name from that highly colloquial landmark, one of Front Porch Records' most promising young bands give themselves a relatable yet grand quality, a "so specific it's universal" element, an E Street of their own where they can sing about sweating it out and runaway New Brunswick dreams.
That's not to say that Brookside Mall is Springsteen-ian in any obvious way. No, this troupe owes much more to indie rock than classic rock on their new EP, Preservation. That's most obvious on quirky closing track "Technicolor," which features lo-fi keyboards that become a melancholy foil to the driving rhythm section and the Black Francis-esque eccentric singing about high diving and smoking. A female voice's sweet singing in the second verse about "vacuous intentions" adds yet another offbeat facet to the song, which is already, thrillingly, teeming with them.
"Natural Light" has a smoother, more mainstream tone that is nonetheless compelling, thanks to its soothing piano and yearning singing. "Eternal Summer," meanwhile, strives for even further emotional heights with its anthemic keyboards and guitar riffing.
The lyrics about Maritime nights on "Spring," and the lines about teaching grade school Spanish on Charlotte street on "Natural Light," along with the band's consistently audible yearning and striving, all help them guide listeners along this musical landscape.
New Jersey or New Brunswick, classic rock or indie, the geography and the genre don't matter as long as big hearted youngsters like this are willing to sing their hearts out about the yearning that we've all felt while growing up in sleepy, formative locales. (Front Porch Records)