A two part, twenty-eight song, bilingual record that times in at almost two and a half hours is a lot to take in. Period. Even the album and song titles as displayed in all caps makes their creative gesture more grand. In such a significant burst of creativity, the Montreal band YouYourself&I seemingly throw aside any sort of preconceived “standards” or traditional expectations of what a record should entail and certainly do their best in making it all as entertaining as possible.
In the heart of YouYourself&I rests songwriter Daniel Gélinas whose vast creative expressions have evolved into the numerous tracks heard on Parts 1 and 2 of THE TREACLE WELL. In a mixture of creaky folk, bizarre interludes of noise, pop, “indie-rock,” and at times a gritty and aggressive fast-past rock erring on the edge of a punk style, THE TREACLE WELL will take you to many places, to say the least.
Part 1 is slightly rougher around the edges when compared to its other half. The twelve songs from Gélinas and the rest of his collective primarily lean on a mixture of the gritty rock and pop sounds that were mentioned before. Introducing you to THE TREACLE WELL’s epic, “HEART NUMBERS” employs a lulling drumming beat as its core with fuzzy guitar sounds and the hushed baritone of Gélinas filling in the surrounding space. Similarly, “BLACK GOLD” and “FACTORY” feature a poppy-rock vibe that could seep out of the garages in your neighbourhood.
One of the many highlights from Part 1 is the oddly moveable, “GUNS.” With a steady swaying beat, “GUNS” is a lyrically engaging folk song made that much better with the pleasant harmonies of Gélinas and his accompanying band.
For fans of quiet folk and la musique française, “PERSEIDES” begins with delicate picking of an acoustic guitar and a whisper from Gélinas that is completely compelling but for fans of something a little more rougher, Part 1’s closer “PRODUCT PLACEMENT” might be a little more up your ally. The first eight minutes of this almost eleven minute song is a haze of high powered fuzzy instrumentals and equally rough vocals which suddenly give way to the final minute of would become a quiet acoustic, harmonious, and brief cover of the 1974 song “Autobahn” by the German band Kraftwerk. See, I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a lot to take in.
Part 2, for the most part, sticks with the rustling folk style scattered throughout Part 1. The harmonies return, this time accompanied with a more apparent piano and occasionally other warm instrumentations. It’s only in “MACHINE (TAKE1)” where YouYourself&I return back to the rocking gritting sounds for almost a sequel to Part 1’s “PRODUCT PLACEMENT.”
With its poppy drum beat, “BASEMENT HEROS” is not only one of the most appealing songs at face value from Part 2 but features such earnest songwriting from Gélinas that makes it hard to ignore. Perfectly depicting those hours you spent in your, or your friend’s, basements playing various games as a child and when you were a little older, doing…other stuff in the basement, “BASEMENT HEROS” is a wonderful trip down memory lane.
Equivalently lyrically strong, “SNAILS” invokes images of long and rainy train trips across the country as you run from things you probably shouldn’t be running from with Gélinas singing, “Berlin to Hamilton, I am lost in transit.” The tender and heartbreaking essence of “SNAILS” is one that seems to match Part 2 in general, a shift from Part 1 that is neither unwelcoming or odd it is just the multiple sides of YouYourself&I.
So sit back and let it ALL wash over you.
Top Tracks: “GUNS,” “BASEMENT HEROS” “SNAILS”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)