There is an unstable calmness about Property//’s latest release In Contentment. The Montreal band – Charles Harding and, for this release, Emily Kennedy and Luke Wilson – make thick, weighty melancholic pop that moves slow and steady in a direction but you don’t know in what direction until you’re upside down.
“Rosie” is stretched out by the slow bowing of Kennedy’s cello and synth drops that sounds like a steady spring rain. From there we move into “Youthless” which flashes like a crosswalk hand telling you that your time to cross is coming to end. On “Losing Face,” Harding’s low, fixed voice is offset by a repetitive sharp synth line that paces in the background. That synth, warped and in a higher register, re-appears on “Bikes” – the briefest outing on the record. This synth punches tiny holes in the otherwise coarse song, allowing you to have small, gasping breaths.
An album highlight “Cave Town” is an all instrumental piece and a collaboration with Ottawa drone artist Wellington Sanipe. The song’s bookends are birds chirping and playing children. What comes in between is a playful assemblage of beats that move with looseness and curiosity, perhaps mirroring the freedom of the sounds we hear at the beginning and end of the track. Listen with headphones for an immersive experience.
And then you’re upside down:
The title track – the crowning jewel of the album – overflows with grief: “Carrying caskets, my brother cracks a joke… my sister cracks a rib. Staring at someone we won’t see ever again. She won’t speak,” Harding sings. It’s a startling snapshot at how individuals grieve. And yet, “In Contentment” is rooted by a propulsive beat that’s full of life. The track jumps and flickers and makes you want to scream and dance and run in time with it. It’s disorienting-ly wonderful.
On “Losing Face,” Harding mutters, “You need to let us out and love the journey that we’re on.” It’s a line that captures the essence of In Contentment – a record about the steadiness of life and the chaos that interjects.
Top Tracks: “Cave Town”; “In Contentment”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)