LAL Corners

It's always extra nice when you can cheer excitedly for the home team. Toronto's Lal give me reason to do just that upon repeat listens to their debut full-length. Brimming with a confidence only hinted at in earlier works, Corners sees a profound progression in the skills of core members Nick Murray, producer/programmer (also of cerebral hip-hop headz Da Grassroots), and vocalist/songwriter Rosina. In a relatively short period of time, Lal's chilled electronic soul has become accomplished, rich and striking - further enhanced here by occasional contributions from bandmates in the live Lal project. "White Cloud Intellect" is the ideal intro; swaying gently in its sparseness, it sets the tone and leads beautifully into the subtle, free floating title track. Ironically, for a song about urban centres, "Corners" reminds of lying in an open field watching the wind bend and twist nature at will. Beats morph and break, sounds melt and shift, and Rose's distinctive, off-key vocals subtly hold it all together. "Projaproti," Lal's melancholic tale of metamorphosis and strength, and "2 See Love," a beautiful slice of urban electro-jazz, are each simultaneously tender and tough, reminding that songs, like love, can be likened to the delicate nature of flowers. Lest we float too far out, the playful little bossa-inspired "Orange Pineapple Juice" and jazzy, breezy breakbeat-laden "Sunshine" showcase other sides and sounds. At a point when "chilled grooves" has become just another marketing or Ibiza-themed term, Lal are here to remind of the power in quiet storms. (Public Transit)