Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Jun 16th 2009 2:00PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Only madcap Milton, Ontario septet the Most Serene Republic could get away with using an archaic interjection like "gadzooks" in a song and somehow make it seem charming rather than utterly ridiculous. But TMSR is sneaky like that, whether it's throwing antiquated literary references into their lyrics, or underpinning a noise jam with a catchy melody.
'Heavens to Purgatory,' the first single from the band's forthcoming third full-length, '...And the Ever Expanding Universe,' doesn't exactly stray from the template set out on their first few releases. Their kitchen-sink approach is still in full effect, but bringing in producer Dave Newfeld proves an inspired choice, as he knows something about working with bands who employ a similar technique, namely TMSR's famed labelmates Broken Social Scene.The band already has several releases under its belt since becoming the first non-BSS act to join Arts & Crafts back in 2005, so it's easy to forget the band members are all still under 25. While they haven't much altered their sound along the way, they continue to hone their strengths -- a strong foundation rooted in founder Ryan Lessen's classical background and frontman Adrian Jewett's love-it-or-hate-it blustery vocals and stream-of-consciousness lyrics.
Ever-eager to keep listeners guessing, 'Heavens' opens with a bit of a false start as Jewett sings over a simple acoustic guitar line before a backbeat drops and co-vocalist Emma Ditchburn chimes in, then the entire thing explodes in a swirl of sound. (Try picking out the various instruments -- the slap of the bass here, a bit of brass there... and wait, is that a ukelele, or maybe a banjo?).
Ditchburn's honeyed vocals (think Amy Millan's younger sister) are a gentle foil to Jewett's unhinged showmanship. Jewett attacks his parts with gusto, his words spilling out in a tumble, riding the rise and fall of the melody, while Ditchburn keeps it calm and sweet instead of cluttering an already busy arrangement by trying to keep up with him.
With seven members all bringing something to the mix, it's no wonder TMSR's songs attempt to cram in as many musical ideas as possible. While that could seem like a potential recipe for disaster, that they're able to create a memorable mélange on tracks like 'Heavens' is testament to the band's skillful songcraft.
Download: The Most Serene Republic, 'Heavens to Purgatory' (MP3)
NXNE set: The Most Serene Republic plays the Arts & Crafts showcase at the Courthouse on Thursday, June 18 at midnight.