Scenic Route to Alaska know the measure of a good hook. Tough Luck is full of them: catchy riffs cascade across its runtime without relent, erupting out of rustic pop-stompers and rock sing-alongs with equal aplomb. The Edmonton trio have locked in on an unwavering approach on their fourth album, and it serves them well.
Opener "How It Feels" sets the tone: lamentations of love delivered with bursting gusto. Lyrically, the album unpacks the ups and downs of the touring musician life: the guitar march of "Slow Down" scans the perils of running yourself ragged between home and road, while "Better Days" elevates its weary-of-this-lifestyle lyrics with some western shimmer.
Scenic Route's vigour never lets up on Tough Luck. There's also a certain sameness to the dynamics across its ten tracks, smoothed by the maximal sheen that producer Howard Redekopp (New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara) culls from the power trio. The album could stand to shake off that ubiquity a bit more, but still: Tough Luck proves itself a confident step for a band with the chops to go the distance. (Independent)