Christiana Hydrofield of Myth

Re-christened Christiana after toiling the better part of a decade in the Toronto pop trenches, the guitar-pop troopers formerly known as Neck are back to shower anyone who'll listen with another clutch of shiny, spiky pop trinkets. They're still playing fast-tempo, shamelessly heartfelt pop, years after it was fashionable, if in fact it ever was fashionable, with a ringing guitar sound that I haven't heard nearly enough of since Unrest called it quits. But trends and fashion never seemed to have counted for much for the trio of Dave Rogers, Paul Boddum and Andrew McAllister, at least since their early days when their sound could have passed for a somewhat noisier take on swirly Britpop. But the main thing that strikes me about their current incarnation as Christiana is their purity of purpose. Nineteen songs that barely clock in at a cumulative half-hour - their pop is to be savoured and perhaps even lingered over, but they're not going to flog you with a good chord progression for more than a minute or two. Obviously, there's no flab on Hydrofield of Myth, but it's still a meaty helping. And even if you don't pay attention to the words, you feel at home with the sentiments of the songs, alluding as they do to about 35 years of both sunny and minor key pop and all its attendant emotions. A real labour of loveliness. (High School Champion)