Jamboree Mourn the Salad Days on 'Summerland'

BY Myles TiessenPublished Jun 26, 2024


It rises from the prairie landscape as a defiant obelisk. Two sixteen-story towers joined together by an all-embracing tropical atrium — an uncanny apartment complex liberated by perpetual summer in a city that harbors an eternal winter.

In the hands of some, the notorious Summerland apartments would be used to describe a symbolic salvation from the oppressive and harsh climate. But in the hands of Jamboree, it represents the fragility of prosperity — an eternal summer on the brink of collapse. 

The Winnipeg indie-rock trio dabbled with a similar idea in the semi-conceptual Life in the Dome, which told the fictional story of a newly-elected mayor who builds a glass dome over the city, protecting and trapping the residents inside. On their new record, Summerland, the band no longer deals in science fiction; instead, they're turning to the unconventional reality of Winnipeg's experimental architecture.

Summerland probes the dull moments that make up the stasis of a teenage summer. Bonfires, riding bikes, spending all night holding someone tight on the basement couch and staring at a bright full moon as it angrily casts ghostly shadows through the trees. For Jamboree, these moments — which are often filled with joy, heartbreak and malaise — prelude an inevitable end. Summerland embraces the summer while facing the inevitability of winter; it hangs with the devil while visiting heaven.

The song "Systems" most clearly demonstrates the freedom that accompanies agonizing nihilism. If you wake up knowing your day is destined to end, what will you make of the moments between? Maybe steal some copper wire, join a show choir, or get a "post-modern mushroom cut." Whatever it is, Jamboree hopes you bask in its exhilaration. "I'm capable of many things," proclaims the band before reeling in the euphoria of layered distorted guitar. 
"Systems" and other songs like "Summerland, MB" and "Wonder Bread" are melodic, almost celebratory in their playfulness. Whether it's the slowcore "Rubber Duck" or the strangely hypnotic "Punk Mentality," this new album feels less precious than Life In The Dome. Jamboree, intentionally or not, has always taken themselves and their music too seriously; Summerland helps ameliorate that a bit.

That's not to say the album lacks purpose. "I talk so I know that I exist," is soberly mumbled through a Midwest-emo riff on "Punk Mentality," which shows how the album uses its ramshackle presentation as a framework for serious reflection. The intricate semi-concept of the Summerland apartments clearly indicates there is a great deal of thought put into how these songs are arranged and ordered.

As the album closes on the post-rock instrumental "The Summerland Sound," the band delicately stitches together cyclical guitar riffs, mystical chimes and restrained drumming with the same dexterity they used to create the conceptual framework of the record. The final track's soothing sound is an anodyne to the finality of endings.

It's said that Canadian poet Al Purdy labeled the Summerland — while quoting Samuel Taylor Coleridge — a "stately pleasure dome." Whether true or not, it's unclear if Jamboree would agree. To them, the Summerland no doubt represents the delicacy of the salad days, reminding them of the moments when they felt betrayed by the omnipotence of the clock and the ever-looming finality of a summer's end.


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