Land of Talk Reemerged at Their Own Pace in Ottawa

Club SAW, May 8

Photo: Ming Wu

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished May 9, 2022

Land of Talk have been consistently plagued by a run of unforeseen disruptions since releasing their debut LP, Some Are Lakes, in 2008, such as plenty of lineup changes, throat issues, a postponed album and delayed tours. But all of that couldn't stop the Montreal indie stalwarts from being greeted by a modest, supportive crowd for their Sunday night (May 8) performance, their first appearance in the nation's capital in a half-decade.

Opening the festivities, Toronto's self-proclaimed "moccasin-gaze" troupe Zoon hit the stage for the finale of their seven-date run of eastern US/Canada shows with Land of Talk. Flanked by guitarist/vocalist Daniel Monkman (also one half of alt rockers OMBIIGIZI), famed electric cellist Michael Peter Olsen (Arcade Fire, Drake, the Hidden Cameras) and about three dozen foot pedals, Zoon mesmerized the audience with waves of sterling and hazy dream pop. Soon joined by bassist Lukas Cheung and drummer Andrew McLeod, the quartet provided everything fantastic and charming about shoegaze in just 30 minutes. This included looped instrumentation, whispered vocals-as-instruments, bent strings and a noise freakout closer that got the back bench sitters to their feet.

As vocalist-guitarist Elizabeth Powell entered the stage in a shimmering aqua-sequined jumpsuit, they soon responded to a fan who complimented their outfit from Club SAW's now-occupied dance floor: "I feel gorgeous!" Accompanied by original members Christopher McCarron on bass and Mark "Bucky" Wheaton on drums, and joined by keyboardist Laurie Torres from Montreal band Folly & the Hunter, the four-piece glistened through gentle opener "Diaphanous," from their latest LP, 2020's Indistinct Conversations

Feeling loquacious, Powell started off their set-long conversation with the crowd by jokingly apologizing for the venue's lack of soda, saying that their band "drank it all" before taking a sip of brown liquid. Showing off more of their excellent new material (including "Moment Feed" from their 2021 EP, Calming Night Partner), the band got their first burst of energy when launching into the beloved "Some Are Lakes", which found Powell stretching out their unsteady voice.

Moving into a set of songs that surprisingly focused heavily on their 2017 LP, Life After Youth, Powell attempted to raise their bandmates' cool energy, playing off Torres' majestic keyboard theatrics during "Macabre." Unfortunately, the band didn't truly find their groove until hammering through an extended rendition of Some Are Lakes' angular "Yuppy Flu," just before wrapping up their brief nine-track set with a tender version of "This Time" and turning down a request for early single "Speak to Me Bones" — as Powell coyly declared, "I'm 42, I don't take requests!"

Returning to the stage for a short but wildly energetic and driving encore of "Magnetic Hill," from their 2006 EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, Land of Talk's simple setup (sans light show or backdrop) and truncated performance felt less like a triumphant return from recent struggles and more like a polite and guileless warmup show.

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