reviewed by Michael Thomas
A borzoi is a type of dog (as seen in the album artwork) whose name comes from, according to Wikipedia, an ancient Russian word that means “fast.” Ian Michael Waddell, formerly of Diamond Mind, doesn’t need a lot of time to mine for genuine emotional connection with Borzoi’s debut EP.
Joined by some of the many talented people Edmonton has to offer in Matthew Gooding, Holly Greaves and Cassia Hardy, Borzoi’s music occasionally touches on punk while drifting between pop and shoegaze music. No song runs longer than 3:30, but each song leaves a lot to think about. There’s genuine heartbreak, a search for renewal, simmering anger—but above all, uncertainty reigns.
“Wellspring,” for instance, is the song about looking for renewal. Here, the narrator is too far gone in his mistakes; there’s seemingly no way to fix them all now. “Maybe there’s a place where everything you take/re-emerges, soft and perfect,” Waddell sings. But he leaves the possibility of this place an open mystery, his last lines literally “Maybe you’ll find it/and maybe you won’t.”
He channels simmering anger in “Prayer Detective,” which shows some influence from his time in Diamond Mind. The song itself takes on a kind of Britpop/punk mix of music, while the titular detective in the song seems like the kind of official you’d want nothing to do with. Waddell sings some hard truths towards the end: “This is yours, so you love it/This is yours, so you hit it.” It’s a few simple words that could apply to so many things.
That sense of duality is what “Sour” is all about. The song seems to be influenced by the sounds of Broken Social Scene but the lyrics are part zen koan, from “Everybody’s fine, everybody’s dying” to “Everything is insignificant, or so it seems.”
Uncertainty and heartbreak are key in the other two songs, “Wonder” and “Permanent.” The former is textbook shoegaze, with gut-punching lyrics: “I’m the saddest little smoke signal, waiting for someone to breathe in.” And at the end: “Who will kill the wonder in me/Will it be you.” The latter doesn’t need many words to paint a vivid picture, accompanied by softer chords. The narrator is tired, both emotionally and physically.
There’s not a lot of answers to be found here, but emotions are not rational things. Just ponder the beauty of it all.
Top Track: “Sour”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)