I Am Robot and Proud Uphill City

When those 2008 best-of lists start rolling in, you’ll be hard-pressed to find I Am Robot and Proud’s Uphill City among the chosen. This isn’t a diss but rather a sad reality, and one the project’s Shaw-Han Liem is likely used to. Since the early 2000s, the Toronto native has dropped more instantly lovable electro pop than you can shake a stick at, yet he’s also somehow side-stepped any wide-reaching appeal, leaving IARAP records to be treasured by a dedicated but lucky few. And with Liem’s Uphill City, they become that much luckier. IARAP’s latest full-length offers the same crisp, polished electro-acoustic textures of old but with a sharper, more melodic punch. And really, that’s its major selling point: the melodies. Liem has way of keeping them beautifully straightforward and effortless while still ensuring they always strike an emotional and memorable chord. It all reminds you that music need not be an uphill battle, with simple indeed being best. (Darla)