My first review of 2017 was Inland Island’s 2016 record Zsa Zsa’s Window Opens Slowly. I encouraged you to let its blissful qualities transport you from January’s dreariness to a sunny and warm spring day full of butterflies. Now here we are again: spring has passed us by, summer is almost over too. But we are armed with a fun new Inland Island album to ward off the dreariness that’s peaking at us from around the bend.
While Zsa Zsa had an orchestral-pop vibe to it, on Step Right Up Avalon Rossignol-Tassonyi and their full band, most of the time, play in a garage/slacker-pop style. Everything is a bit looser and a shade rougher. On “Red Rover,” the intro/outro guitar riff whines like a particularly loud school child. I also like the bouncy bass + drum combo on “Waste My Time,” and the progressively louder power chords on “Toxic” remind me of the pop-punk of my youth. As this all happens, Rossignol-Tassonyi tackles a lot on Step Right Up. Like how tough it is to get your shit together (“Always Late for Everything”), the appalling and exhausting hate some have towards strangers (“Person”), and figuring out when it’s the right time to say something and take action (“Don’t Wait Too Long”).
In the sauntering latter track, Rossignol-Tassonyi’s sincere encouragement (“don’t wait too long”) – nicely punctuated by a banjo and a piano – is applied to everything from telling children the history of colonialism to admitting something to a loved to getting out of bed and enjoying the sun.
On Step Right Up opener “Moving Forward,” Rossignol-Tassonyi puts on their best, most colourful, most feel-myself outfit, throws up their hands and sings, “I don’t wanna be anyone’s token, I don’t wanna sacrifice a thing, I don’t wanna play anything up, all I wanna do is sing, sing, sing.” It’s a glorious song about loving yourself.
Finally, another album standout is the closer, “Nina.” It’s a love song to music (the Nina, is Nina Simone) but it’s also about being an artist and how damn hard that is. The last verse of “Nina” is, cleverly, a verse about outros, and Rossignol-Tassonyi bids us farewell by singing: “Maybe it’s not over just taking a break cause the songwriter is late for work, no surprise.”
Step right up and take in another batch of Inland Island’s goodness.
Top Tracks: “Don’t Wait Too Long”; “Nina”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)