Two Hours Traffic goes darker on Territory

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      Two Hours Traffic
      Territory (Bumstead)

      The pressure was on for Two Hours Traffic, after the P.E.I. four-piece found itself on the Polaris shortlist for its 2007 album Little Jabs. Happily, Territory is the better record, thanks to its slightly darker tones and more adventurous arrangements.

      Indie-rock It boy Joel Plaskett produces yet again, and why not? He brings the perfect sensibility to the picture, burnishing Liam Corcoran’s songbird voice with just enough celestial echo and dialling in guitar sounds that sit precariously on the right side of radio-classic soft rock.

      THT and Plaskett are reverent in their approach, not academic. The New Pornographers come to mind on “Monster Closet”, but Two Hours Traffic is never as clinical as Carl Newman’s blue-ribbon project, nor is it ever as smug as Sloan occasionally is.

      Indeed, “Just Listen” provides the rare opportunity to write “sounds like Foreigner” with a straight face and a sudden, sincere desire to go back and listen to a bunch of Foreigner. The feel continues through “Drop Alcohol”, which again cleans up and minimizes the Two Hours Traffic sound, boiling matters down to the least instrumentation they can get away with and one crystal-clear hook.

      It all ends with “Sing a Little Hymn”, being essentially nothing but chorus for its whole, utterly compelling, and potent three minutes. It comes off like the rest of this gorgeous and defiantly old-fashioned album reduced to a tincture.