Published Sep 26, 2010The Coast are leaving the rough edges intact this time around. While debut album Expatriate was a polished indie pop release, Queen Cities exhibits grittier landscapes. Worriers can stand down though, the quartet haven't abandoned their previously established sound, rather they've enhanced it with fiercer guitars and a proliferation of keyboard parts. "Heartbreak City" begins the nine-track record with pounding drums, bouncing keys and a buzzing guitar line. Ben Spurr's voice shines when all but the beat cuts out, sticking each syncopated note with precision. The high-energy song gives listeners a preview of what to expect during the record's 35 minutes: a jaunt through humming guitar lines ("Golden Gate"); it's-already-stuck-in-my-head melodies ("Lovers Go"); and lilting vocals that allow numbers to linger in the air ("The Fire Out"). The Coast succeed on this album not only because of their uncanny knack for combining these elements, but for becoming more than just clones of those that came before (i.e., Wolf Parade, French Kicks). Queen Cities sets the Coast apart from their contemporaries, placing them in a position to do something very special.
Explain what the album title means.
We've toured a lot and when you go across Canada, England and even the States, every city has a Queen Street and a King Street. Regina has plaques all over the place where the Queen stood; you just get in a weird space where you're paranoid, thinking someone is following you. [The album] is not about the monarchy or anything. "Queen Cities" is just about how someone can have power over you. Being in a band really controls me; it's really enjoyable. But five weeks into a tour, it can be terrifying, forced to be away from home all the time.
Why is this release better than that band's debut?
When we finished this one, I went back to the first and I was surprised at how much I still like it. This one is much more cohesive; we went in with a clear idea of what we wanted. We wanted loud, aggressive guitars and we wanted it to be a bit more direct and poppy.
What made the band want a more aggressive sound?
The first record was more reflective, but I can't write all these songs about relationships and heartbreak. So, with this one, I wanted to be more direct and less reflective. I just needed more of an aggressive sound; I think the lyrics are a lot less personal and more direct as well. I don't know if they're more accessible though, but I think "Queen Cities" is a good example of [the album being less personal]. It is as about me as any song I'll write, but it's also about things outside myself and I hope I gave people other images to think about.
Were there any direct influences that informed the sound of Queen Cities?
It's weird because the four of us listen to different stuff. I just found that lately I've been attracted to harder music; I'm a big fan of the Handsome Furs. I listen to a lot of Jay Reatard and other stuff with a harder edge.
The album only has nine songs, which may seem short to some. Were there more tracks that got cut during the recording process?
Well, we came in the studio with 14 songs, but there were a couple we had some arguments over and we decided, in the end, not to put them on. Our attitude was to go ahead with the nine songs that everyone was behind, rather than ten or 11 that we were unsure of. We have to play these songs for a long time, so there's no point doing it if everyone doesn't want to. Now that [Queen Cities] is out, there's talk of a digital release [for the songs that were cut]. But it won't be an after-album EP or anything; we're not Animal Collective.
Are there any goals for this record?
It's tough to say what you want out of an album. You put so much into it and that's a lot of work. By the time it's done, it's hard to ask anything more of it. We want as many people [as possible] to hear it; we're really proud of it. I think we're more proud of it than our first album. (Aporia)