Vailhalen Pop Violence

Running along fellow Calgarian Chad Van Gaalen’s sci-fi lines of pretty, aggressive, nerd pop, Vailhalen are contributing heavily to the rejuvenation of Alberta music in general — starting with the blood sacrifice on the cover. Using muscle that has more to do with frustration than the pompous, sulky whining of the finally dying post-grunge movement, the band rely equally on toothy guitar and asphyxiating electronic organs. This latter suffocation — constantly fought by Chris Vail’s half-punk, half-fop new wave vocals — stick us into an apocalyptic marathon. Cleverly laid out, the disc starts out slow, using abstraction as much as adding anything. Abstract art is defined as taking away, and Vail peels off his humanity as "Pop Violence” beats on, leaving him devastated and whispering at the end. The album really kicks in on the fourth song, "Take on Me,” when Dolly Sillito’s spooky Transylvania keys and Vail’s voice wrap tighter and tighter around each other, the whole band looping excitedly in circles. They bottle the nervousness of rejection so well "it’s scary!” to quote Lola Heatherton. "Never been knocked down I fell down,” Vail repeats into infinity on the Bauhaus-tasting "Girls Fight!” including samples from a high school girls’ rugby team, which leads cleverly into "Angry Mothers,” a song creepy from the title in. There’s something middle-class European about this whole album, something grey and defiant. Ah, but I’ve said enough. (Saved by Radio)