Published Mar 22, 2017Seven years after releasing their first demos and four years since their only other official release, a five-song EP called Leave a Light On, Montreal's Laureate have followed up their years on the touring and festival grind with a promising full-length debut that validates the band's work up until now while also showing plenty of potential for growth.
The four-piece occupy the space between indie-rock, emo and punk where you may have already found groups like Lemuria, Cheap Girls, Joyce Manor and Tigers Jaw. Owing a debt to influential bands of the '90s like Jawbreaker, Samiam, Knapsack and the Get Up Kids, Laureate's spirited Landmarks is emotive and poppy without being melodramatic or cloying, with breezy, upbeat yet wistful highlights like "Western Medicine" and "Come Around."
The production on Landmarks has the roughness of an emerging rock band, but the group's chemistry isn't lost in it. Giancarlo Talarico's smoky and smooth vocal timbre blends nicely with Erin Power's bright and airy inflection, and the group's leading duo have the natural charm and harmony of longtime friends brought ever closer by years of travelling the continent together.
They sing about strained relationships, personal failures and nagging insecurities that transcend time and place: "I've never been in love / At least I've never been loved back / I've got the urge to run away / I've got a suitcase that I don't unpack," the pair sings during "Come Around." The pounding waltz "Northern Dialects" has another of Landmarks' lyrical gems, capturing a life of temporariness with a nod to the band's Canadian heritage: "I've never lived in one place long enough to really get an accent / A mix of northern dialects to tell you where I'm from."
The idea here, delivered through Power and Talarico's impassioned duets, is that you may travel far and wide yet still not find (or even know) what you've been looking for. But as they posit in "Places," new experiences can lift the spirit and help you lift yourself out of a rut: "The writing's on the map, not on the wall." (Jump Start)