reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
The music scene in Victoria has a distinct spirit of camaraderie. It’s fitting of a city that feels so much like a town: artists are separated by usually no more than two degrees of separation, and veteran bands share stages with the newcomers. Take Teenage Wedding, for example. Singer-guitarist Nick Joy is also known for his work with Zuzu’s Petals, Cosima Friesen and Claire Guimond form Aquarius, Ben McCormack is a jack-of-all-instruments who bounces around the Victoria music scene, and Owner Hooper (of Mouth Breather) is Teenage Wedding’s producer and bassist.
These friendships and connections formed around art create a community, and the lively companionship can be heard in the songs of The Great Sadness, which — despite the title —begins on an upbeat note. “City Lights” has a Kurt Vile sort of chill to it, a sweet Americana sound that begins with giggles. Sure, the lyrics begrudge city life, but the jovial tone and layered vocals find a symbiotic joy. “It’s too crowded here to be so lonely, and my one horse town needs another one trick pony,” sings Nick Joy. The breezy fun-vibes return in “Flesh Prism”, a quick little tune with a jam of a bass line and optimism in the face of relationship decay.
Eventually, despite the pop melodies and bright guitar lines, the album delivers on the title’s thematic promises. “Outa Sight” begins with the lyrics, “the great sadness that the heart feels is pouring out of your eyes”, but the true sadness comes in the artistic desperation of “Shallow End”. The guitar breaks down as the lyrics hit home with poetry of self-doubt. “So Long” closes the album with a steady pace and similes that tie heartbreak to nature. A great sadness, indeed.
The strengths of The Great Sadness are twofold: the band creates accessible pop tunes that invite community at any live show, but there are also hints of experimentation with deeper thought. These strengths are most evident in “Outa Sight”’s sweet guitar line and melancholy euphony, and then in the semi-discordant rumbling chorus of “Sun Rising” — a rumbling that parallels lyrics wondering what anything in the world means, and whether any explanation would even be enough. Between these anchors is a place for anyone, a sense of friendship in the chilled out vocals and thoughtful riffs.
Whether you’re tired of city life, struggling with a relationship, or you just need the casual sounds of camaraderie, Teenage Wedding have crafted a record of laid-back tunes to stretch out your muscles to. They might even help you find a reason to laugh.
Top Tracks: “Sun Rising”, “Outa Sight”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)