Over the past few years, power-pop outfit Partner's shows quickly became lore amongst Canadian music fans: not only were co-frontwomen Josée Caron and Lucy Niles hilarious and relatable, charming audiences coast-to-coast with tales of getting too high or watching daytime TV, but they sold it all with arena rock star bravado, shredding guitar solos on double-necked guitars and leaning into each other dramatically throughout their chunky, power-pop anthems.
It's no surprise, then, that their debut record is similarly a blast. The wailing, Weezer-esque "Everybody Knows," about weed paranoia, opens things perfectly, but the big riffs keep coming through "Comfort Zone," "Sex Object" and the Rick Springfield-evoking "Play the Field." They're catchy as hell, with neat little pre-choruses, huge solos and stacks of vocal harmonies to ensnare listeners' ears and hearts. "Ambassador to Ecstasy" is easily one of the catchiest power-pop stomps of the year.
On first listen, the lyrics are clever and funny, but it's their underlying subversiveness, revealed on the second and third listens, that will keep listeners coming back. "Comfort Zone" might come off as a frivolous song about unwinding after a long day at work, but its lyrics about living a life that makes you happy are powerful, particularly in a world that polices almost every choice women make, from what they wear to what they eat. Elsewhere, a line like, "Trying not to look at you, 'cause even though I'd really like to, it's not worth being called dyke / To see you in your sports bra, though, it might just change my life," from "Play the Field," is both a painfully honest portrayal of the cruelty of youth and a sweet, poignant coming-of-age moment from a perspective not heard often enough.
At Partner shows, Caron and Niles tell stories and engage in funny on-stage banter, so it's easy to see why they might have wanted to pepper this album with a handful of similarly irreverent skits. Unfortunately, they don't work half as well on record as they do onstage; the band are funny enough in-song that they're mostly unnecessary here, and they often feel like in-jokes that listeners aren't a part of. By the third or fourth listen, they feel somewhat indulgent — although Caron's dad using the Doobie Brothers as an example of rock'n'roll's timelessness in "The Last Word" will never get old.
Plus, that's a minor quibble anyway. Overall, In Search of Lost Time is a catchy and hilarious record that's as important as it is fun. (You've Changed)