Denim on Denim (Young Soul)
I sure hope the members of Library Voices are New Pornographers fans, because it’s a comparison they’re going to get whether they like it or not. It’s unavoidable, really. Like the better-known Pornographers, Regina’s Library Voices specializes in giddy indie pop layered with electric guitars, analogue keyboards, and multipart vocal harmonies. Heck, the eight-piece band even has a lead singer named Carl (Johnson in this case, rather than Newman).
Hopefully they’ll take it as the compliment it’s meant to be. After all, the New Pornographers are one of the most popular and critically well-regarded acts to ever emerge from this country’s indie milieu. Having already received props from SPIN and The New Yorker, Library Voices looks to be headed for its share of international recognition as well. Based on its debut full-length, Denim on Denim, it’ll be well-deserved.
This is a group that knows its way around a hook but isn’t afraid to offset its bubblegum sweetness with unexpected bursts of noise. Observe the fuzz-skronk guitar that rips through the surface of “Family Night” for an examples, or the swirling feedback and synth oscillations that close out “Haunt This House”. Keyboardist Michael Dawson, who writes Library Voices’ lyrics, also has a few lyrical concerns that add a jagged edge to the otherwise upbeat proceedings. These include, in no particular order: self-medication, the weight of other people’s expectations, and the apocalypse. In fact, Dawson seems particularly obsessed with the end of the world, as it’s the theme of at least two songs—“End Times” and the instantly unforgettable “Party Like It’s 2012”.
One hopes that getting all this dark stuff on record has helped Dawson get it out of his system, and the album’s closing tune, “Hello, Cruel World”, suggests that it has: “I spent a winter indoors just getting to know my new self/I read some books and wrote some songs/And when I emerged I was who I claimed to be.” We should all be so lucky. For the love of God, Michael, please post a reading list on your blog.
Download This: “Party Like It’s 2012”