Published Oct 18, 2011The first strong hint that we're in for something different from these Ontario roots-rockers comes from the opening notes of first cut "Runner." An insistent synth riff presages an electro-pop tune, rather than the rustic Canadiana Sunparlour Players did so well on their acclaimed first two albums. In fact, elements ranging from electronica to dark- and punk-inflected rock ("Like An Animal") are audible on this decidedly eclectic offering. "Green Thumb" is a rollicking, dynamic highlight, while the haunting "2 Minds Listening" and "Damn All You" burrow deep. Cohesiveness is supplied by Andrew Penner's expressive, convincing vocals, while co-producer Chris Stringer (Ohbijou, Timber Timbre) helps keep the production level high. More familiar-sounding material like "Red Blood Red of Home" will reassure SPP fans that the band haven't lost the plot. While the trio avoid special guests this time out, the sound is textured and sometimes dense (Penner is credited with playing 11 instruments), but generally highly satisfying.
There's a diverse sound to this album
Singer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Penner: We feel that each of our records has been different. That seems like the natural thing, for us. There are some new things on this one too. Especially touring as much as we do, you just try to play with things. Once we started using synths and these distorted organ parts more, it ["Runner"] felt like a perfect start to this record; it seemed like the right kind of thesis statement. The thing I'm happy about is that the album is very playful and feels very diverse in the styles we are playing with now. Like "Don't Be Afraid of the Spark," which rather goes into this weird bastard of a Motown song.
Do the songs suggest their own setting?
We are always looking for new sounds within us. In a weird way, the songs do seem to lead where you go, production-wise. There is a bit of a pop element to this record that I don't think has been there before. The sonics of it are different; it feels bigger in some way. A song like "One For You and One For Me" is a very quiet little song ― all the instruments we were playing we were barely touching ― yet there is rather a big feel to it all. The experimental aspect of our band when we got in the studio with Chris Stringer just felt really right. (Outside)