If the feeling of being in a coma could be conveyed through song, how would it sound? Toronto songstress Lou Canon attempts, and succeeds, to do just that on the opening track of her new album, Suspicious (the long-delayed follow up to her 2011 eponymous debut, which was produced by her brother-in-law, popular songwriter Hayden). The song begins with faint, far off, echoing moans that evoke someone tumbling down the well of their own subconscious. That's followed by before spare, melancholy electric guitar strums and Canon's husky whispered singing about letting "your mind fall, and your spirit dies." It's a haunting, engrossing song for fans of subtle, distinctive indie pop, even if cynics may dismiss it as being too on the nose.
Such naysayers are sure to be won over, though, by "These Faces," a midway track on Suspicious in which Canon plunges her vocals into bottomless reverb and other creepy effects. Same goes for "Who I Am," which has background percussion that snaps like crumpled tinfoil and spooky, fog-like synths. Both tracks have cryptic lyrics that make them more open, relatable and universal than the more specific, pointed opening track.
"Inner Talk" is another track that snugly fits the album's highly introspective motif, thanks to its static-y synths and steadily escalating electronic percussion. But "Fever" is even more impressive, thanks to its digitized beats that somehow deftly mimic a marching band, before the song's remaining instruments burst forth in upbeat, vintage arcade-style blips and zaps. The track's sunniness makes for a cathartic release after the more downcast preceding songs. However, even more such moments of levity might have helped balance out the album overall, seeing as "Fever" is so joyous.
But that darkest-before-the-dawn build-up was clearly intentional of Canon, and it's exciting to listen to an emerging artist with such a clear vision (it's also good to be left wanting more when it comes to sugary, upbeat fare). The dire tone of "Elevator," immediately after "Fever," makes for another thrilling descent into Canon's anxiety-ridden style, her forte.
Both on those grimmer numbers or the more beatific "Fever," it's undeniable that Canon has a captivatingly unique point of view. Those qualities are sure to make her name spring to mind alongside artists like U.S. Girls, or even more brazen artists like Pharmakon. (Paper Bag)