reviewed by Michael Thomas
Royal Canoe make the kind of music that seems to only be adequately described by multiple GIFs of minds being blown, literally and figuratively. They have no intention of making anything that sounds remotely like anything you’ve heard before. That ethos shines in their incredible live shows, in which the band never uses anything pre-recorded. They could do things traditionally, but the joy of their music comes from how much they seem to be actively ignoring conventional song structures while at the same time producing music that is “pop” enough to not make them inaccessible to new ears.
Three years ago, Today We’re Believers was already a showcase of how far Royal Canoe’s music had evolved since the very-enjoyable Co-op Mode, but it was impossible to read into how much more Royal Canoe could experiment while still maintaining its irresistible grooves. The album was joyous and chilled-out all at once, reaching the dizzying highs of “Bathtubs” and the slow-down electronica of “Light.” On Something Got Lost, the band shows a bigger fondness for trip-hop while still infusing their music with hooks aplenty.
One such hooky song is “Walk Out on the Water,” with tight snaps leading into a soulful chorus: “Will I be singing hallelujah when I walk out on the water? I’m not going under, I own the space that I occupy.” It’s both empowering and faux-boastful, a line the band loves to tread. “Love You Like That” by its title sounds like it should be an R&B ballad, but there’s something sinister about the lazy vocal deliveries and the darker electronics. The “love” of the song seems less like “the one” and more a plaything. The soulful ballad (done in a uniquely Royal Canoe way) is “Living a Lie,” with its stuttering beats. Here, the narrator realizes “All I want is you.”
Opener “Somersault” seems to double as a means of explaining Royal Canoe’s ethos. It constantly feels like the song itself is doing flips, as the narrator describes himself as someone who’s constantly walking on his hands, ignoring the conventional ways of walking. Similarly woozy is the stellar “Bicycle,” that pedals along on a deep groove and a swirling vocal delivery that feels like it can cause actual dizziness. “Out of the Beehive” is as fast-paced and unpredictable as a beehive, especially with the rapid-fire vocals.
Just like Today We’re Believers, this album ends on a more introspective note, starting with “How Long is Your Life.” It’s heavy at first, before moving into ambient territory that continues into “BB Gun.” It’s not the end of Royal Canoe’s journey by far; we can only hope that they continue to push their own boundaries for years to come.
Top Tracks: “Somersault”; “Walk Out on the Water”; “Bicycle”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*