The results can be riveting
Jaime Gill 2008
One of the most attractive aspects of Land Of Talk is how out of step with current indie-pop they sound. While most of their peers are mining the same very 80s, very male seam for inspiration – all Cure, Bunnymen and R.E.M – the Montreal trio take their cues from the early 90s and, specifically, the many female-fronted bands that vied with macho grunge, often surpassing it. Spend time soaking in this, their melancholy second album, and it's hard not to hear echoes of the Breeders, Belly, Madder Rose, Throwing Muses and even - very occasionally - Babes In Toyland.
It's not just that singer and guitarist Elizabeth Powell has a voice as sweetly fractured as Madder Rose's Mary Lorson, and a guitar style as teasingly askew as Kim Deal, but that bassist Chris McCarron and drummer Eric Thibodeau lay down the loose, rambling rhythms characteristic of that time. The title track shows the band at their poppiest and lightest, with its bittersweet vocal and crunchy guitars, while the bass-propelled The Man Who Breaks Things is twitchier and more erratic.
The only real problem is that Powell's melodies are sometimes too vague to rise above the languid, low key production, so that songs like the grumblingly angsty Death By Fire or the mid-paced Young Bridge blur into each other. At times, the stubborn adherence to the DIY formula can feel like sitting down to a ten dish feast, only to find the same few ingredients used again and again.
When Land Of Talk do mess with the recipe the results can be riveting. Give Me Back My Heart Attack sounds like Come's bruising debut, with its smears of discordant guitar and angry, ragged pacing. The highlight, however, is It's Okay, stripped and slowed down to a piercing vocal and aching slide guitar. ''Maybe when I die, I'll get to be a car,'' Powell sighs, ''driving in the night, lighting up the dark''. It's a startlingly beautiful melody; it just makes you wish there were a few more like it.