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May 11, 2009

CluesClues (Constellation, 2009)

The recently-released debut from this fairly new Montréal group (featuring past members of Les Angles Morts, Unicorns, HRSTA, Thundrah, and others) has its own thing going on. An odd assortment of musical ideas, sounds, and lyrics come together here to create a unique, attention-grabbing record.

There is definitely a pop sensibility to it, which makes the melodies and the song parts memorable, but there’s plenty of left-field stuff going on as well (it wouldn’t be on Constellation if it was that easy). The textures vary from song to song, with a number of instruments and modes popping up throughout the course of the eleven tracks. The band is a songwriter, Alden Penner – whose high voice and guitar playing lead the songs – plus a group of multi-instrumentalists who supply changing landscapes of backup. They cover ground from quieter psych sort of stuff, to clattery, tightly-wound indie rock, to offbeat, dynamic pop. From the Constellation write-up: “It is one of those albums that coheres effortlessly in spite of the restless energy and distinct identity of each song – nothing ever really sounds or stays the same, but neither are there any forced spastics or facile schizophrenics.”

Overall, it’s an interesting and unusual record that manages to avoid weirdness just for the sake of weirdness. The group is still coming up, and this is a noteworthy first statement. A group to watch out for.

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