Ryan Dahle Irrational Anthems

Ryan Dahle Irrational Anthems
An elephant in the room needs to be addressed right off the bat: Ryan Dahle spent the mid-'90s playing with gold-selling CanCon radio darlings the Age of Electric, along with offshoot Limblifter. For many a fickle hipster, that past is going to lead to the instant dismissal of Dahle's first solo effort, Irrational Anthems, but sadly, it's that same audience that should champion what's destined to become one of the year's most underrated slabs of intellectually minded indie rock. With help from Megan Bradfield (A.C. Newman) and Dahle's drummer brother Kurt (the New Pornographers), the BC native repeatedly strikes that perfect balance between hook-laden pop and off-kilter musical weirdness, bringing cerebral pop tones, straight-up rock theatrics and a hefty dose of restrained subtlety, often within a single track. And while Dahle's songwriting has definitely levelled up, it's his emergence as a true studio head that makes Irrational Anthems, with the album's production sounding entirely slaved over yet never over-the-top. Quite simply, it's enough to forget that past — "Ugly" or not — and live in Dahle's present. (Sandbag)