Paisley Days is an album of transition. Despite the fact that Josh Horner now has a full band backing his Trees Speak Breeze (a minor tongue twister) project, this particular album was the product of 20 different musicians.
Halifax has always been known as a hyper-creative hub, so it makes perfect sense that Horner based himself there. Paisley Days is a bit of a journey through many genres of music—most comfortably in the pop and rock arenas, but with some folk flourishes and one notable excursion into electronic.
The main thing to keep in mind when listening is to not listen to one song and assume that it’s what the band is all about. Opener “Fizz Pop,” for example, has the kind of loud and proud guitars you might hear from Japandroids, and it’s about the loudest the guitars will get on the entire album. It’s a nice whir of synth, guitar and bass, and it introduces some vocal shouts—group vocals are a definite highlight of this album.
From then on, there’s several avenues Paisley Days veers into. They have a couple of songs thoroughly in the summer pop realm, namely “Illusions” with its pop-centric guitar-based melody, and “Not Necessarily Sacred” which features a little bit of a slower intro before bursting into the bright sound that gets people at shows dancing.
In the folk vein, there are numbers like “Fortunate Fool,” where Horner’s vocals are a little more mournful, accompanied by some guitar, piano and a steady drum beat. Add some wonderful harmonies in the chorus and it almost heads into Deep Dark Woods territory. The opening of “Trust in the Gamble” is misleading, as it morphs into a rollicking number with plenty of organ and even harmonica for a decidedly folky touch.
For a return to the rock sound promised in “Fizz Pop,” head to the crunchy “Mind Reader,” in its fuzzy-guitar glory, made all the sweeter by some great vocal harmonies.
The final two songs end the album on a high note. “Wolfshark” is the type of whimsical songwriting it would be great to hear more of—it’s literally a song about trying to avoid a wolf/shark hybrid, with great group vocals to top it off. But then there’s the title track, which blows everything out of the water. Interesting, the song Horner chose to name his album after is unlike anything else—it’s purely electronic, with a drum beat backing, some warped synths and big vocals. It continues to add instruments for a big finish.
Horner’s backing band is now fully figured out, so it’ll be interesting to see where Trees Speak Breeze heads. Only Horner and his band know, so the next record should be something to keep an eye out for.
Top Tracks: “Losing”; “Paisley Days”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)