Thursday 26 August 2010

Better and closer

QBiM SPiNS: Land of Talk Cloak and Cipher

I wasn’t a fan of Some Are Lakes, the first full-length album by Montreal’s Land Of Talk and it left me feeling as if I was missing something, something obvious to all the others who effused endlessly about it.  It was clear to me (and everyone else) that Elizabeth Powell was a talented lyricist and vocalist; the songwriting and performances were of a high calibre, but me and Land of Talk just didn’t click.

We click now, though.  With the release of album number 2, Land Of Talk have upped their game tenfold and produced an album of beautifully embellished indie rock that flows as smooth as silk.  “Goaltime Exposure” has a hint of the Cocteau Twins’ ethereal shimmer, and brings out the similarity between Powell’s voice and that band’s Elizabeth Frazier.  Around the basic guitar-drums-bass building blocks, Land Of Talk have arranged strings, horns, some electronic droning and noise, never overindulging in the extras.  Jace Lasek’s production focuses your attention at what truly sets this record apart from other like-minded outings: Powell’s ardent songs, full of passion and soul.  A deep soul, sometimes obscured by Powell’s occasionally obtuse lyrics (at least they seem obtuse in the absence of a lyric sheet to help me make them out), but soul never-the-less.  I’ve come back to this album a few times in the last few weeks, only ever allowing myself a single listen at a time.  It’s the kind of record I fear overplaying, lest I wear out it’s appeal.  Songs like “Quarry Hymns” keep drawing me back though.  It’s tender, propulsive beat outdoes her pals in Broken Social Scene at their own game and is the crown jewel on this record. In reality, there isn’t a dud in the 11 songs here.  Each composition takes its time to unfold, like origami in reverse.

I keep thinking about the irony of naming this record Cloak and Cipher.  It’s ironic because this record is going to pull back the figurative cloak surrounding Land of Talk, effectively taking Powell from a relative cipher on the world music stage to a known commodity in short order.  This record is going to take Land Of Talk supernova.

MP3: Land of Talk “Quarry Hymns”
MP3: Land of Talk “Swift Coin”
Myspace: Land Of Talk
Facebook: Land Of Talk
Twitter: Land Of Talk

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