Mardeen Friends Don't Love

Of all genre terms, "pop/rock" is probably the vaguest. Bands as disparate as Pernice Brothers and Foo Fighters regularly get thrown around with the term, but then so do Simple Plan and the Passing; the grey area, as you likely already know, is cavernous. Cape Breton's Mardeen unmistakably write pop/rock, but don't be fooled, it's about as far from Hoobastank as Death Cab for Cutie — who Mardeen (conveniently) do recall, if only slightly. To be a little more accurate, imagine Ben Gibbard fronting a soft rock ’70s Beach Boys tribute band like the Thrills that only play songs of the Strokes. Friends Don't Love, their relentless debut EP, starts to reveal the band's youth by the time latter-inclusions like "Street Love" start to fall apart, but there's enough here to make up for its very few misses. The title track, for instance, is an excellent mash-up of soft rock verses and instrumental post-punk climaxes, but it's really with the blissful folk-pop of "Won't Be the Sun" and the Long Winters-esque "Heartbeats" that the EP goes beyond merely enjoyable and becomes exceptionally promising. (Independent)