Vulcan Dub Squad The New Designers

Near the top of the list of bands with misleading names, the Vulcan Dub Squad have spent the past decade releasing albums about Canadian history and culture. And that continues on The New Designers, their sixth record, where the overall theme might be Expo ’67. Yet it doesn’t feel like an overreaching concept album at all — quite the opposite, in fact. It is a messy album that doesn’t appear to know where it wants to go. Or maybe that’s the concept and there’s something much smarter going on. The bottom line is that despite rants about John Diefenbaker, The New Designers has some rather nice jangly indie pop songs and some louder rock moments that punctuate the album in a way that keeps things interesting. Some of the longer tracks rely too much on shifting styles, something that might work better during their notorious live shows, but on record it feels a little forced and excessive. Still, sometimes more can be more and it’s hard to argue with their ambitious agenda when most of it sounds this good. (Five Deadly)