Bruce Peninsula's 'No Earthly Sound' Marks a Stunning Return from the Toronto Art-Folk Collective
Published Apr 20, 2020A much-missed, mighty, and idiosyncratic post-punk/folk force, Toronto's Bruce Peninsula are back and they've arrived armed with a stunning new record.
Eight years since Open Flames, core members Neil Haverty, Misha Bower and Matt Cully have explored their own musical pursuits while other vital participants, like Tamara Lindeman (a.k.a. the Weather Station) and Isla Craig, have simply forged their own paths. With help from some friends and at least some absorption of recent musical developments, Bruce Peninsula sound familiar but also rather refreshing.
With stomps and handclaps, the band have often fostered a kind of gospel-infused galvanization at their shows, perhaps in no small part because they often assemble as a crowd and encourage anyone else in their orbit to join them. With Bower at the helm, "Make a Sound" has that old BP feeling as her powerful, melodious and alluring voice pushes and rides a clackety rhythm and chunky, stabbing guitar lines.
For anything "organic" or roots-y here, there are some electronic and synthesized sounds, like Cully's menacing "Summertime," which sounds like a cousin that wasn't invited to the most recent Holy Fuck album. For his part, Haverty remains a distinctive and impassioned vocalist, his gruffness always softened by welcoming warmth. There has clearly also been some some expansive guitar experimentation going on; Haverty's "Whistle" suggests West African guitar studies, and there's some Afrobeat flavours fluttering here and there too.
Three powerful visions and voices are guiding Bruce Peninsula now, which gives No Earthly Sound a collective cohesiveness while also remaining true to the band's interest in dynamic music. "Soulful" sounds like a cliché, but there's a dedication to the human spirit within Bruce Peninsula that makes them a heartening entity in any timeline, let alone today's unusually dark one. (Independent)