renders epreviewed by Michael Thomas

It’s fitting that just a few days after the release of the debut EP from RENDERS (Peterborough’s Kelly McMichael), Vice published an article on how to create inclusive venues. Both the eponymous EP and the guide have the same demand: be accepting of yourself and others. Create an environment where people have fun but be respectful.

RENDERS is the spiritual successor to former Toronto group Rouge that I didn’t know I needed—effortlessly addictive electro-pop with a strong emotional core. McMichael is singing about broken relationships and more, but it’s all to beats that are pretty easy to get lost in.

But her most powerful statement of the EP comes right off the bat with “Running Through the Night,” an intense ride through dense synthesizers in a song inspired by the SlutWalk campaign. As Laura put it a few weeks ago, it’s a song about wearing whatever the hell you want and not being shamed for it. It’s depressing to think that this is a message that some people just don’t get.

The tempo slows down for the next song, and the moody “The Garden” is a nice trip into chiller territory. It’s no secret that Paradise Animals’ Mark Andrade produced the album; it’s got that same dreamlike atmosphere as his own material. Meanwhile, “The Ceiling” builds up a base of upbeat synths and McMichael seems to be channeling the powerful vocals of Animalia as she heads into the choruses.

On hearing “I Am Gone” for a second time, it’s hard for me to argue against the notion that this is a perfect pop song. The Paradise-Animals-esque production mixes with some great lyrics: “You need love and I’ve seen it once or twice, but then you give up.” The relationship is fundamentally broken, but she’s not dwelling on it. She’s moving past it into a sunny future, hopefully one where the music of RENDERS is dominating the dance floor.

Top Track: “I Am Gone”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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