Review- “Civilized City”- Hermetic

reviewed by Michael Thomas

The word “hermetic” has two meanings- it can mean airtight, as in something that is “hermetically sealed.” But it can also mean something that is insulated or protected from outside influences, according to the good old dictionary.

In this day and age, it’s impossible for music to not be affected by its predecessors (many people would argue that the Beatles influenced everybody after them, for example). But Vancouver-based band Hermetic manage to do a pretty good job of making a sound that is completely their own.

It’s telling that one of the tags on Hermetic’s Bandcamp page is “weird pop.” Hermetic are most definitely weird, but in a thrilling way. While taking notes on what I was going to say about each song, I found myself noting down a lot of the band’s lyrics. Many of the songs seem to have at least one gem of a line amongst the fuzzy guitars and crashing drums.

Right, maybe I should describe some songs now. “Preventative Arrest” is exemplary of the way the band handles its songs; this track seems like a stream-of-consciousness rant, such as starting a verse with the line “I shared my lunch with a Canada Goose today.”

The strange lyrics made me decide that this is what Boxer the Horse and Dog Day’s west-coast lovechild would sound like. In the opener “Revenge Comedy” I couldn’t help but be amazed at how the band rhymed “erection” with “perfection.” Or in “Nixon Song” with the line “Internal bleeding, not worth repeating.” Yeah, wouldn’t want to be internally bleeding more than once.

“We Ought to Be in Pictures” and “Expatriate Act” both seem to feature some harmonica, a very jarring sound considering the closest broad category this band could fall under is punk. There even seems to the sound of strings in “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

“Sunday Best” was one of my favourite tracks because it was one that made my head hurt considering the lyrics. The beginning of the song mentions something about an “altruistic mixtape” (if I heard that correctly). Later there’s the line “I loved that book so much I broke its spine.” I know you can do that to books, but the phrasing is so jarring that it sounds almost morbid to be doing that to a book.

“Curmudgeons Club” is a jagged song. It starts with talking about having a “mind to clear out,” and later seems to detail some rules for the so-called club: “We wear the same clothes, we talk in clichés.”

I am always a fan of albums that throw me for a loop, and Hermetic has certainly done that to me. In which case I would recommend Civilized City. The album is available from Bandcamp.

Top Tracks: “Revenge Comedy”; “Sunday Best”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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