reviewed by Jack Derricourt
We’re back in the transit infested world of autumn weather.. Some people hate the bus; not me, I can’t get enough. I love public transportation. I’m not sure if Montreal’s shoe dragging sensations Sick do though. The lethargic indie pop artists produce their newest full length with descriptive rather than enthusiastic labels: put out by Montserrat Records, Bus Rides is an album of reserved discussion, a chapter in a book that seems altogether too short, but with all the right stuff in it.
This is a huge step in a new direction from 2014’s release Browntown. The previous record lacked bassist Joe Toner’s wonderfully streetcorner-prophet-style vocals, and the guitar work is much changed — and for the better, featuring immaculate surf guitar choirs from the likes of Zachary Mason and Graham Webb. Though, I must say, the track sequence from that previous record is hard to top:
The production on Bus Rides is fantastic, and I find it hard to believe it was recorded in an apartment, but isn’t that always the way with great Canadian releases? The drums sound close to your ears, pounding and talking with tom and high hat. The vocals echo as is speaking to a condo court. And the guitar and bass glisten and shake, punctuating scenes with decorum and pluck.
Now for some highlights!
Psychic gravitational swings careen all over “Sleeping.” The track speaks of falling asleep to “four o’clock sunsets,” yet the immaculate jazz guitar lines hint at the gorgeous dreamscape that threatens to emerge as the eyes close, and the subconscious strolls through the make believe. This is not a typical opening track, but it is breathtakingly mellow and intriguing.
“Swirling Pool” features a slow, shimmering buildup to a murder. Oh, and there’s a significant tempo change that feels damn good. Nuff said.
And the award for best track name goes to: “The Woman In My Sleeping Bag.” Such a uniquely Canadian song name. This dreamy tune, like so many other pieces on Bus Rides, transforms rapidly into something completely different. The instrumental two minutes that start the track die off, only for the music to reemerge with an almost goofy sung rhyme, eliciting an altogether different, wakeful groove of a song.
This band is Sick, and their new album Bus Rides is anything but pedestrian.
Top Track: “Sleeping”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)