Published May 15, 2015Though frenetic Ottawa folkie Rolf Klausener hasn't released an album as the Acorn since 2010's No Ghost, he's kept himself busy through side projects and founding the Arboretum Festival; the Acorn's latest, Vieux Loup, finds Klausener channelling these other projects into a record that feeds on folk, pop and electronica for an eclectic yet focused listen.
Where No Ghost juggled between Animal Collective-like mania and Grizzly Bear-esque harmonies, Vieux Loup is a subtler, more restrained effort that never forgets its folk roots but also doesn't fear straying into electronic territory. He does so on lead single "Influence," a track most definitely influenced by Klausener's other project, Silkken Laumann.
It's the record's least experimental tracks are its strongest, though; "Palm Springs" is a dizzying, thumping rock track with soaring choruses, while the vocal duet between Klausener and a female vocalist on "Dominion" sends the album toward a satisfying, folksy conclusion. Certainly, it's not worth it to take risks, but the ones taken on Vieux Loup are often ambient palate cleansers; the alternation between the poppier, more straightforward tracks and the less energetic ones keeps a steady, reliable pace.
Vieux Loup strikes a delicate balance between soft folk and grooving rock, with shades of early Broken Social Scene — the sparse, shuffling instrumentals and vocal similarities to that band's Kevin Drew — but stripped of the bombast. Vieux Loup is an intriguing, layered record. (Paper Bag)