July Talk Look to the Future on 'Remember Never Before'

BY Paul DikaPublished Jan 17, 2023

Somehow, it's already been a decade since July Talk broke out with their self-titled debut LP. Dominated by bombastic bluesy-riffs and the charismatic back-and-forth vocals of co-front people Leah Fay Goldstein and Peter Dreimanis, the record had fans flocking to live shows that brought its palpable energy to even greater heights. 

Their sophomore effort Touch was a fitting follow up; a more refined understanding of what worked well, it expanded their sound by allowing softer tracks to breathe and develop. Since then, they've continued to evolve and clarify who they are, with 2020's Pray for It introducing a further shift from the raucous guitars and vocals that defined their earlier work. Their latest release, Remember Never Beforefinds the band settling comfortably into this newly dexterous identity, harnessing the songwriting skills they've been cultivating for the last ten years.  

The album's title bluntly frames the new full-length as something of a re-birth, and the opening track reinforces that sentiment. "After This" kicks things off with a reminder that July Talk are still a rock n' roll band at heart, just not the one they were ten years ago. Goldstein and Dreimanis trade restrained verses with staccato guitars that build to an explosive, urgent chorus. The peaks and valleys of "After This" are a taste of the album as a whole — Remember Never Before is dynamic in a way that wasn't fully realized on their previous effort. "Certain Father" feels somewhat akin to Touch's "Push and Pull" but distinguishes itself with a synth lead that dominates the verses and underlies the shuffling choruses. Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug also joins, lending his vocal talents to add another layer to one of the album's most striking tracks. 

Throughout the album, Goldstein, Dreimanis and Co. make a point of reminding listeners that they know how to write a hook — it's worth noting that guitarists Ian Docherty, Josh Warburton and drummers Danny Miles and Dani Nash share songwriting credits on the majority of the tracks. "Human Side," "G-d Mother Fire" and "I Am Water" (a single that came out over a year ago) all have memorable choruses that are sure to translate seamlessly into the band's uproarious live show. July Talk compliment these upbeat and energetic songs with the subdued and slow-burning "Hold," the clean and rolling "When You Stop" and penultimate piano ballad "Raw."

Lyrically, July Talk reflect on the ever-changing nature of their band and themselves as individuals throughout the album. "After This" features Goldstein realizing, "After this, I will be something else instead of me" and "I can't wait to get back on my feet," emphasizing a desire to use life's challenges and obstacles as a tool for growth. "Human Side" elaborates on the importance of individuality and motivation — "Climb out of your comfort, your control / Bare your soul / And bring out the human side." While on previous albums both vocalists shared call and response lyrics that told a story from two points of view, there's more interest in a shared perspective on Remember Never Before

For all of the album's strengths, there are times when the group seem to lose their footing. "Repeat" serves as a fitting title, as the song slowly, repetitively inches along towards a finale that misses the mark. Meanwhile, the off-kilter and enigmatic vocals in the verses of "Silent Type" are some of Goldstein and Dreimanis' finest, but the muted chorus fails to complement those moments accordingly. 

Small missteps aside, Remember Never Before is an impressive collection of songs that showcase the band's strengths, embracing who they've become and where they're headed. The raw energy and chemistry captured on earlier albums has been refined and paired with new skills — July Talk have shown that even after ten years, the fire, passion and songwriting is still as strong as ever. 
(Six Shooter)

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