reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Occasionally a collection of music comes along that has the ability to channel a physicality: a sense of place, of space, of expansion and walls. The full-bodied bounciness of Bernice’s new release, Puff (EP), uses every moment to create an awareness that perhaps comes from the variety of spaces it was born out of.
There are many shifts on Puff. Between the tracks are often movements from the amplified to the muted, and in the case of “Gemini”, the shifts take place within the boundaries of the song, like the opening of a treasure chest buried deep underwater. The change from the contained “David” to “Talking About Her”’s lurching, on-the-edge rhythms feels like an explorative push at the edges of Bernice’s genre range. It’s a measure of possible space, helped along by Shawn Everett’s production (done in Los Angeles) and, for “David”, the production of Matt Smith and the band.
Puff is also an achievement in weaving. Many of the tracks seem fleshed out with an impossible number of sounds that all swerve and connect with each other in a deeply satisfying chaos. “St. Lucia” feels like many tiny, luxurious explosions, while the more restrained “Gemini” melts lyrics like “Feeling like a fish in the water, looking for her worries in the water, even if you yell you won’t stop her” into a busy, anxious ending.
Perhaps it has something to do with the Banff Centre Residency that has spirited the writing of Robin Dann, or the car chase that went down outside the LA studio where Puff was assembled, or the spacial uniqueness of the Breakglass Studio in Montreal where the album was recorded, but the sense of place that these five songs carry builds high anticipation for the full 11 song release later this year. It’s clear Bernice is ready to unleash a world upon us.
Puff will be available June 16th.
Top Track: “St. Lucia”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)