Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

7. Timber Timbre
Hot Dreams
(Arts & Crafts)

There's a lot to be said for albums that have the ability to establish a mood for itself and then immediately plunge the listener into it. Taylor Kirk's vocals have never sounded more at home, going full film noir on the band's fifth studio album, one that found universal love within their sizeable fan base. The album first started to take shape while Kirk spent some time in Laurel Canyon, and appropriately, Hot Dreams incorporates elements of country, rockabilly and Americana, with songs like "Grand Canyon" and "Run From Me" evoking Elvis Presley at his melancholic best. There's a sense of fatalism that permeates the album, especially on cuts like "The New Tomorrow," and while the dark subject matter combined with the gloom of Simon Trottier's arrangements can be utterly depressing, it's also exactly why Hot Dreams is such a singular release.

Enlisting the usual suspects — including Olivier Fairfield, Mathieu Charbonneau and Mika Posen, not to mention saxophonist extraordinaire Colin Stetson — Kirk manages to include everything from the Mellotron, the Fender Rhodes and the Theremin and somehow make is seem easy and spontaneous. Hot Dreams is a cinematic masterwork. (Scott Simpson)