reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Arms out, toes pointed, all finesse at times and all adrenaline at others — the music of Slowfish is as simultaneously dangerous and graceful as tightrope walking. That’s what this Toronto-based band do best, after all: they walk a line.
Buzzing electric guitars set the scene as Laura Bower takes her stance. It is her voice on album opener (and aptly titled) “Up to the Wire” that stands between edgy and sweet, but elsewhere this responsibility falls to her synth. On “Up to the Wire”, the lyrics, too, sit precariously between smooth and rocky. “Please close your mouth so pieces of yourself don’t fall out / But your teeth don’t work, I’m sorry life’s a jerk / Just please learn to chew”.
“Stringy Bits” is an act featuring many players. We begin with the bass — spotlit and strong — before the synth comes in for a enchanting brush and the chorus raises the stakes. “Stringy Bits” is a highlight for the unexpected twists in volume and layers. And what kind of show doesn’t end with a bang? “The Horse’s Mouth” is a rock-out song that allows the guitar to dip into chaos. Fireworks over the circus, even if the lyrics tend towards the melancholy.
This is not to say that the music of Slowfish comes off solely as spectacle. There is a rawness that seem to reflect modern life, and particularly life in the city. We’re all trying to find a place where we can control our world (“Give it up, I won’t take no for an answer,” is repeated on “Lemonades”) without losing tenderness (“I lie awake wooden-eyed for you,” is the strongest image on “The Horse’s Mouth”). Slowfish have managed to reflect life in their sound while always retaining a sense of the entertaining.
Top Track: “Stringy Bits”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)