The old adage about breakfast being the most important meal of the day proves to be true yet again with Best Fern, a Montreal duet out of the Oh Hi Collective. Neighbours Alexia Avina and Nick Schofield started out playing late night drone jams, but it was reputably the breakfast hangouts that followed that birthed the poppy sound featured throughout their debut EP, Best Fern.
Both artists are active members of the growing collective, with Schofield releasing previous work through them with the psychedelic electronic group Saxsyndrum. And while listening to an old cover of “I Feel Love” teases just a bit of the drone jamming that may have kicked off Best Fern, the pair appear to have fully shed that darkness in favour of some lighter-sounding fare.
Although the music may rely more on charm, there’s still plenty of turmoil on this debut. The EP opens with “A Way,” as the beat and Avina’s voice build optimistically into a bouncing middle before slowing back down to stretch out the two words into the far more devastating “away,” and playing on that word to create a distance the rest of the album will have to overcome.
“Lay It On Me” keeps that pace, turning the phrase from its more suggestive connotations into a mournful readiness for honesty. And when Avina asks, directly, “Do U Love U” on the following track, the release plunges deep into that answer.
The album continues to reach out over the distance created in “A Way” with “R U Well,” the Ke$ha-like spelling in the song titles adding a commercially pop veneer –and a bubbling intermission—to an album that grows overtly more personal with each song. While the lyrics on Best Fern can be easily defined by their titles, as they build on top of each other it’s clear there’s a particular conversation being had that may be all the better for its simplicity.
Finally, “I Will Try” is a dreamy, swirling dedication that offers all it can in response to the rest of the EP, crossing the spaces created by the languid pace of the instrumentation to eagerly move forward. And much like this brief debut, that may not seem like much, it’s a wonderful start.
Top Track: “Lay It On Me”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)