Nutrients are among a small handful of Canadian guitar bands, born across the country but eventually steeped long and strong in the DIY studio culture of Montreal, whose experiments with plugging surfy jangle pop into vintage tape equipment have resulted in a washed-out, chime- and spring reverb-wrapped take on surfy dad-rock. Mac DeMarco and Real Estate spring immediately to mind when we talk about this kind of sound: at once delightfully normcore and instrumentally tight and sparkling, but bent weirdly out of round by slackened delivery and a pitch-perfect wobble between the upbeat and the depressive.
What Tangled Webs We Weave wears all the familiar lo-fi patches emblazoned on the sleeve of that acid washed denim jacket that is its sound, but there’s more to it than just vaporous aesthetics. Behind the vaseline lens of the album’s sonics, Nutrients win the listener over with solid songwriting that hits in a string of satisfying, short and to the point micro-ballads.
The album’s best cuts, like “Dream World,” “Hide and Seek” and “True Lust,” create teasing melodic runs, then unspool them easily and without fanfare. None of the songs overstay their welcome, and despite using the same core principles – tape echo, bright clean guitars, boppy drums – they don’t sound same-y. “I Feel It” embraces the squashy, hissy feel of old-school recording as opposed to the bright chime of the previous songs, and “Lighter Palace” is built on not much more more than a literal crush of surf, but overall the textures lean toward pleasantly buzzed throughout. Only late-album tune “Blonde Hair” feels like it meanders without enough focus.
Is there a web of deception weaving behind the chime and wash? Small sleights of hand abound, for certain, but this is not the kind of record that spins vintage pop ideas around to sarcastic or ironic purposes. It seems genuinely content to paint clean and wrinkle the edges.
Top Tracks: “I Feel It,” “Hide and Seek,” “True Lust”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)