reviewed by Michael Thomas
Montreal’s Code Pie (and by extension, Flagless Records) take their time with things, and when they finally release music, they don’t trumpet it. After putting out one of my favourite records of all time, Love Meets Rage, in 2011, they took their sweet time with Pop Cycle, three songs of which were released as singles between 2013 and 2015. With album art that is literally just black text on a white background and an EP name that betrays some cynicism, it’s almost as though Code Pie don’t want to draw any attention to themselves.
I was just reading yesterday about the Law of Jante, a fictional “ten commandments” of Danish society that has largely pinned down its devotion to being humble and not standing out in a crowd, and Code Pie almost seem to be following the rules with Pop Cycle‘s release, but it masks the fact that what they’re doing is quite effortless pop.
That air of mastery of what they do has always been with them. While this new EP is not quite the chamber-pop of their previous full-length,it still shows many flashes of brilliance. Here they’ve streamlined their array of instruments, scaling back the brass to focus on a pop-friendly mix of slick guitars and waves of synths. But even this familiar combination is done some justice thanks to their calm sensibilities. Songs like “Hands” feel like they’re out of a dream.
Which isn’t to say their pop cycle is a snoozer. “Body” and “Born Again” are both big and brash, the former with very pronounced, majestic strums of guitar to punctuate each line. “Born Again” is almost a song of the summer until the chorus shows its narrator is less than confident: “Let’s stay for a while, I’ll tell you everything/Let’s stay for a while, I’m just a weakling.”
Perhaps the most Love Meets Rage-esque song is the murmuring “Something Something,” a song that taps into their cool persona the best and comes across as nothing less than magic thanks to its almost-tropical guitar chords.
Whether it’s two years or a decade until we next get new music from Code Pie, the band is always worth catching up with.
Top Track: “Something Something”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)