reviewed by Michael Thomas
Today we unearth for you a rarity from the 1960s…actually, no. This is a 2017 EP and it is a throwback in the absolute best possible way. Though it may not be the case, I can fully imagine a joyous, crowded recording atmosphere for this EP that matches the joy in most of these songs.
There are two things I love in songs, and those two things are here in spades. Robert-Étienne Siméon provides some kickass saxophone (especially noticeable in the first two songs), and Sylvain Lussier, Evelyne Lambert and Guillaume Gilbert provide some wonderful backing vocals and harmonies. This first EP shows how the band can throw back to the soul era while also blending in some more modern sounds.
I hate to sound selfish, but I would love an entire album of songs like the first two on this EP, “Balls in my Ears” and “Look Up To Me.” The first song is the kind of introduction that will hook you onto this band. Instrumentally it’s a blend of David Bowie and Elvis Costello, with rollicking piano, expressive horns and above all, Fred Guigère’s powerful, powerful vocals. Even better is “Look Up To Me,” which tones down the big-band atmosphere just a tad and makes it even more playful as a result. There’s a nice call-and-response between Guigère’s vocals and saxophone or synth.
The other half of the EP takes things in a darker direction. “The Marrow” is more guitar-centric, with an intriguing chorus of “My mind is in my bones.” Siméon’s saxophone is much sparser but really heightens the atmosphere when used. “Leopold” is the most modern-sounding of the four songs, with a wistful bit of harmonica and a heaver reliance on drums. It’s a dark spell to end the EP.
Joyousness and darkness: maybe the Game Bird EP is two sides of a coin.
Top Track: “Look Up to Me”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)