Published Jan 01, 2006Never heard of the High Dials? Maybe you knew them as the Datsons, the name they relinquished "kicking and screaming," says singer/scribe Trevor Anderson, after New Zealand's Datsuns made some noise and stole their thunder. Before all that, the Montreal-based trio made their own noise with the mod and soul-powered album See!, and after two years holed up like "a mad poet in a tower on a cliff edge," the band is back with a new name, a new guitarist and drummer, and a fresh, vibrant sound.
A New Devotion (out on July 8 on Rainbow Quartz) is no less than a classic pop album, an hour of infectious rock'n'roll coloured with lush melancholy. To its author, however, it's a dense, deeply personal creation.
"I'm still making sense of it," says Anderson, pondering his concept. Yes, concept. "I've had this story in mind for years, so it happened really intuitively. Some songs on See! are tied to the same theme, a love/hate relationship with the city and a desire for something that transcends the modern world."
Unlike its predecessor, A New Devotion was sequenced to carry the concept and the character, Silas. "I've always written different shades of this character, a broken person reflecting on something they've lost. I'm very sentimental and nostalgic myself, so those characters always captivated me in books."
But with an exciting summertime sound and a subtle narrative (set on planet Earth), the record bypasses those distasteful frills of the 70s. "The lyrics are mysterious, like a haze people can look into and see a shadow of themselves," says Anderson. "It's not like I sat down and wrote out an opera where a narrator's voice comes in and says, And now Silas leaves the forest.' I'm so glad we didn't go there."