Well, shit. This is it. This is the last Expwy album ever. Whether Matt LeGroulx is going to focus on Galaxius Mons or do something is unknown, but either way, as Expwy he’s done a hell of a lot. He’s mixed lo-fi pop with bossa nova. He’s released a conceptual double EP about an expressway. He’s tackled pop with earnest. And that’s just the stuff this blog has reviewed.
In a way, you should know by now exactly what to expect from Flagellation Honey. The enigmatic song titles are back (just try and figure out what “Mountains bleed the proud eunuch” is going to be about) and once again, it’s a new sound for a new album. As if LeGroulx is as sad as I am for this last Expwy album, the joy of Deep Joy becomes wistful, and the clean pop turns into sludgy, almost gloomy pop.
Just from the opening chords of “Take the pills and kill the exchequer (cheer up Angie),” the chord progression evokes a feeling of looking back on something. As usual, LeGroulx and Ian Jarvis (with Christian Richer as recording engineer) weave a twisted path with words. Lyrics like “When you asked me for a glass filled with nightmares, swarming asps/I didn’t know you twinned the connections,” come around, you can’t help but remember the strangeness. And nothing is more wistful than “In poisons lay a latent saccharinity,” which has a repeating few lines ending with “Taking me back, take me back to youth.”
The songs take it relatively easy compared to songs like “Throbbing with unnatural light” and “Hold on (Don’t stop),” both featuring punishingly heavy guitar but with that Expwy lyrical touch (the latter has phrases like “Drink the water, rightful smoke.”
The points in the music where LeGroulx and Jarvis partially emerge from the sludge is when the music becomes unexpected. “The sun stood up to scorch the massive capstan cradle berth” is the kind of earnest that Deep Joy is, only the sludge comes in so late in the song that it’s like it was there since the beginning. “You drank the lemonade in tears” reverberates with a punk energy that would almost make this one a road trip song.
Flagellation Honey is a fitting way to say goodbye to a hugely prolific act. Do yourself a favour—when you’re done listening to this album, go explore the back catalogue. You never know what you’ll find.
Top Tracks: “The sun stood up to scorch the massive capstan cradle berth”; “You drank the lemonade in tears”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)