Published May 08, 2015When Sam Goldberg Jr. — of Broken Social Scene and Blue Hawaii fame — set out to record an album with his buddy Jeff Edwards, it was a conscious effort to record around their limitations, with Edwards having no experience on the guitar. Their scuzzy debut, Middle Ages, benefited from its charming lo-fi sound and drums courtesy of Death From Above 1979's Sebastien Grainger, making it an assured, satisfying release. But on their sophomore effort, Good Hangs, their limitations shine through more than ever, to middling results.
Their garage rock aesthetic still works, and the production is more assured, if not a little safe. They recorded in Montreal's Break Glass Studios instead of on a laptop, surrounded by an enviable cast of musicians and technicians, but the problem is, with all this new gloss and more straightforward production, it's far too easy to decipher the lyrics, and once you start paying attention, they're impossible to ignore. "I put bacon on my tofu burger with cheese" or "I eat Monsanto, in the day, I go to work, to buy blue jeans, and V-necks, don't ask why I like Star Trek" come off as the musings of an angst-y teenager who revels in being supposedly counter-cultural. Meanwhile, lines like "You ain't too young to feel" — on the aptly titled "Ain't Too Young To Feel" — come off as downright creepy, giving off a predatory vibe. I'm not even going to touch opener "Baby Deer."
However, if you're able to concentrate on their production and instrumentation, with a bit of help from the Stills' Tim Fletcher and David Deias of Mystic Motorcycles, Good Hangs is an enjoyable background listen. There are far worst ways to spend 40 minutes, but you might want to block out the lyrics. (Hobo Slang/White Whale)