The bassist and vocalist from Halifax’s pop rockers Glory Glory is out with his own project, TopTalk. Gavin Maclean’s solo debut, Friends Festival Funeral, builds on the psychedelic vocals of Glory Glory, but instead of coming out with more pop, he’s taken his five-song EP in a different, ambient direction.
Eponymous “Friends Festival Funeral” shows off the softer vocals and ambient synthetic sounds. There’s a dreamy feel to the chorus as other vocalists join Mclean. The recurring chimes pepper the song and add to its whimsical feel.
“If You Don’t Someone Else Will” takes on a darker tone from the very first note. Gone are the lighthearted vocals, and Mclean’s voice echoes ominously throughout. There’s a certain amount of reverb present, and although the song lightens up for the chorus it returns to its somber note for the end.
The pacing and beat of “The Mediterranean” feel like some of Glory Glory’s pop influences are making themselves known. There’s an ambient chime accenting the beat that mellows the track out—along with almost whispy vocals, but this is definitely the upbeat song of the album.
“Raccoon’s Return” opens with a simple beat and heavily echoing vocals that come from a distance. Over the brushes of the beat, Mclean moves between clear, almost unaltered vocals and distant ambient singing until the two start to mingle and move closer together as the song layers onto itself. Andrew MacKelvie can be heard playing a heavily distorted sax as the song crosses the halfway point and moves into the close.
The album ends with “Deepest Water,” which contrasts with the simple, synthetic feel of “Raccoon’s Return”. On top of the drums are a keyboard and Maclean’s voice, almost untouched by effects. It’s easy to see this song emulating the title and the water it refers to—it feels like a cheerful swim on a quiet afternoon.
If Maclean’s title for TopTalk’s debut album is meant to represent the different sides of the EP, it’s easy to make that connection. The songs move from light to dark, and from intense to relaxing. It’s unified by the dreamy vocal work and a sense of rhythm that sustains each song even as elements are added or taken away. By far its most interesting feature is how Maclean brings everything together into a single sound while covering so much.
Top Track: “The Mediterranean”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)