Maybe Smith Second Best Death

The first few minutes on this third release from Saskatoon’s Colin Skrapek gives you a sense of the joys that await you: fuzzy, shoegazer-influenced guitar, with an accompanying slide guitar rooting the sound in vintage country melodies. Sound incongruous? Well, Mojave 3 did used to be Slowdive after all. There’s a lot going on throughout Second Best Death — bubbling, quirky electronics, off-kilter drum programming, sweet guitar melodies, and distinct, emotive vocals. Comparisons aren’t easy, but Skrapek finds himself in good company if the closest his dense sound comes to is the work of Dave Pajo and Grandaddy. It’s truly amazing what one can record in a bedroom these days. "And Suddenly” is incredibly epic, and easily challenges the sound of Spiritualized at a fraction of the budget and manpower. Best of all is the title track, which just might be the most beautiful song you’ll hear this year. With an experimental attitude and solid understanding of pop hooks, moving Maybe Smith away from more basic electro pop has worked out startlingly well for a one-man project. Although only seven tracks in total, the effect this album has makes it seem so much bigger. Definitely a highlight of Canadian indie music so far this year. (Disney)