The secret behind the catchiness of this debut album from Pick a Piper, a side endeavour by Caribou drummer Brad Weber, is that it’s all in the details. Each song features a kaleidoscope of textures and percussive sounds whose polyrhythms add up to a heady experience. Yet it’s often the smallest things that make a catchy song into something memorable and exciting, like the morse code drum beat introduction of “Lucid in Fjords” or the a capella choir-style “ba-ba-ba”s on “Once Were Leaves”. “Pick a Piper” is full of moments that will make you smile and keep coming back for more.
Nature imagery is apparent just from reading the song titles: fjords, dust, leaves, Polynesia, coves. The outdoors as a theme also translates through the organic swells of instrumentals that the vocalists weave their way through. The whole thing feels light, effortless, and natural, despite the clear high degree of calculation needed to make all of the layers gel.
The strongest track is midway jam “South to Polynesia”. Dynamically shaped like going over a hill and sliding down the other side, it mashes together a pulsing heartbeat bass backbone, clattering drums, undulating saxophone, and flute trills. The large range of ingredients could result in cacophony, but instead complement each other well on account of the precise, focused playing from everyone involved.
All in all, this light-on-its-feet record is a strong first statement. If you’re in Toronto, you can catch the band at the Rivoli this Saturday (and check their facebook page for a variety of other Ontario dates in the near future).
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really good)
Top Tracks: “South to Polynesia”, “All Her Colours”, “Lucid in Fjords”