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- Posted on Feb 17th 2010 10:30AM by Tabassum Siddiqui
While synth-based dance-rock may never go out of style, that retro-tinged sound seems particulourly ubiquitous lately, with every other buzz band reaching into their '80s grab bag and showing off their mad beat-programming skills.
Luckily, Toronto duo Woodhands come by their electro-dabbling honestly -- drummer Paul Banwatt (who also pounds the skins in breakout indie band Rural Alberta Advantage) easily one-ups any 808 with his manic percussive backdrop to keyboardist Dan Werb's squelchy melodies.
Despite the RAA's rapid ascent, Banwatt and Werb found time to record a follow-up to their enthusiastically-received 2008 debut, 'Heart Attack.' New album, 'Remorsescapade,' continues the frenetic dance-party attack but breezy duet 'Dissembler' moves beyond Woodhands' usual template.
Werb's burbling synth lines are still framed by Banwatt's snaky, skittering breakdowns, but for once, Werb forgoes his usual wry, deadpan vocals in favour of a surprisingly earnest approach that plays nicely off guest vocalist Maylee Todd's plush, jazzy tones.
While Woodhands are all about making you move, they're not beyond also making you think -- as the album title suggests, there's a slightly darker edge at work in both lyrics and melody. Like any good dance song, there's a slow build into the big finish, but there's an underlying tension throughout that keeps listeners guessing.
Woodhands have such a knack for a killer rhythm and effortless melody that the lyrical content can seem secondary, so it almost comes as a surprise when 'Dissembler' reveals itself to be a rather pointed 'he-said/she-said' breakup tune -- the push-pull vocal arrangement works to cast the lyrics as a rather downcast, cynical exchange between two young ex-lovers.
It's a softer, more serious vibe than we're used to hearing from Woodhands, but one that suits them well. After all, sometimes even the best late-night dancefloor highs can be followed by some sombre morning-after lows.