reviewed by Michael Thomas
Brookside Mall (not the band) is a shopping mall in Frederiction, NB, where the band Brookside Mall is also from. The mall has just one sad Yelp review and it somehow seems to fit the ambiance of what the band is going for. While the mall may not be sterling and beautiful, there are probably many people with nostalgic ties to it. Brookside Mall (the band) are very good at telling emotion-filled stories.
When reflecting on the past or making a point about relationships between people, I think it’s really easy to be venomous or ironic; Brookside Mall instead choose to be sincere in their storytelling. Their blend of synth-pop and rock really helps the self-described “passion and relief” parts of the album shine through.
On opener “Twenty Thirteen,” we hear Brendan MaGee yelling his head off amid crunchy guitars, and soon he hits hard with the lyrics “I miss the Weakerthans and spending summer with my friends.” No lyrics will plunge you into nostalgia quicker than those. We get more firsthand experience on closer “One Day I Returned,” with soaring synths backing a mostly spoken-word piece about going back to a place you once lived. In the song, not even “one particle” of what the narrator remembered is still around.
The rest of the album has numerous third-person stories, with personal interjections here and there. “Canis Major” introduces us to Katie and a dog named Dylan, and soothing piano helps paint the sad portrait. “Now & Then” is a deeply sad song about two people falling in love, and realizing years later that they were never “the one” for each other. “Sometimes we choose the path of least resistance,” MaGee explains. “O.K.” is a song that gradually builds in passion and seems to be a tribute to Roy Halladay, the former Blue Jays pitcher who died in a tragic accident last year.
There’s so many beautiful bits of reflection and observation that make Brookside Mall such a refreshing listen. Here’s to all the memories you can’t put into words.
Top Tracks: “Twenty Thirteen”; “Now & Then”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)