Published Aug 26, 2013Winnipeg indie pop experimenters Royal Canoe experienced some delays in releasing their new album, Today We're Believers, but now it's finally here. Ahead of the record's September 3 in-store release date via Nevado/Roll Call, the entire thing is available to stream here on Exclaim.ca.
While the record uses a fairly traditional setup of drums, guitars, keyboards and occasional baroque flourishes, it is anything but a standard rock record. Instead, the arrangements feature pitch-warped vocals, dense rhythmic interplay and restlessly shape-shifting grooves that frequently venture into hip-hop beats and R&B melodicism.
"It's something that we've been moving towards in the last three, four, five years," frontman Matt Peters tells Exclaim! "Trying to complement organic-type instruments with more of an electronic base, while the entire time keeping groove as your paramount indicator of how something is sounding, and not really worrying so much about the harmonic context — what kind of chords you're playing, if you're going to look cool strumming the guitar."
He adds that none of the songs were written using a standard instrument-and-voice setup, noting, "We're not really standing around with guitars in our hands as much as sitting around a computer, debating, talking, trying things, muting tracks."
Paying no regard for how a song will be performed live, the musicians aren't confirmed to their usual instruments, and every member has input on every part.
The result is dizzying yet focused, with songs like the standout "Bathtubs" piling catchy hooks on top of eclectic cut-and-paste structures. That song, Peters reveals, was inspired by the band's jam space, which is located in a building of converted single-occupancy apartments. The former owner moved the bathtubs from the suites into the hallways, and Peters says, "They were there for about nine years, and they were always in the way. Always. If you'd move an amp, it would be in the way. They were quite beautiful, but you hated them anyway. If became a metaphor — if you're any sort of creative person, you always have those obstacles that you have to sidestep just to stay motivated. "
Luckily, Royal Canoe have managed to overcome such obstacles, and are gearing up for a busy fall including a tour with Alt-J. See their live schedule, which includes plenty of Canadian dates, here, and stream the album right here.