We Are the City have always been comfortable going off and doing their own thing, then reappearing to blow our minds. It’s hard to believe it’s already been more than two years since Violent, which hurt hearts in the best way, but here we are with Above Club, which somehow manages to top the heights of its predecessor.
Every recording the band releases is an evolution, and while Above Club may be the band’s most wild (maybe even depraved) album to date, the band’s hallmarks are still alive and well. More of that in a minute though.
The record name reflects the album’s circumstances — the band worked on the album above a Serbian nightclub, and the influence of the seemingly seedy goings-on below make their way into the album’s music in more ways than one. In “Lovers in All Things,” an otherwise contemplative, sombre, guitar-driven song, it takes a small break to sample what is presumably the thumping beats of the club. “Club Music” begins with woozy synths as Cayne McKenzie implores “Please, let the dance music start, after we have time to get messed up.” In less literal ways, “Sign My Name Like QUEEN” is the song version of a sleazy night out at the club—for the first time, McKenzie sounds like he’s singing with a sneer with lines like “Call me Babylon/I say whatever” and “You hear those lyrics? Invoice for me that.”
But for all the frenzied atmospherics built on top of the band’s booming prog-rock foundations, the album still reflects We Are the City’s (seemingly strained at times) relationship with God. “Keep on Dancing” no doubt also draws from nightclub energy, but the oft-repeated hook has McKenzie musing “Whatever God is, it’s here with me now.” In “Cheque Room,” a piano-driven ballad, God is literally calling the narrator onto the lake. In the aforementioned “Club Music,” McKenzie sings “I’m tired of moments like these, with no message to teach,” as though life maybe isn’t as allegorical as it should be.
But when the album isn’t swinging to one or the other extreme it’s still a heavy hitter. Opener “Take a Picture With Me While You Still Can” sounds like vintage We Are the City until Andrew Huculiak’s smothering drums change the direction of the song entirely. The whirring synth and echoing percussion of “Heavy as a Brick” make it an album highlight and a song that will not leave your head.
Above Club may as well also describe the music We Are the City regularly create. They’re in a whole other league.
Top Tracks: “Heavy as a Brick”; “Sign My Name Like QUEEN”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*