Dear Father (Wave/Zed Productions)
It’s a band name so simple and yet so brilliant, one has to seriously wonder why no one locked onto it before.
Well aware that everyone loves a good double-entendre, Head thoughtfully included a marketing stroke of genius in its mail-out promo package for Dear Father. In addition to an old-fashioned CD, basic-black T-shirt, thoughtfully composed cover letter, and comprehensive 8-by-11 stapled booklet marked “The story behind the songs”, the group enclosed a tiny sticker reading “I Love Head.”
Who other than the ghost of Andrea Dworkin or someone dating one of the Demodogs from Stranger Things is going to line up on the other side of that fence?
Considering the lengths Head went to for its Dear Father press kit, it’s no great surprise the album shows an admirable attention to detail. The group cites Evanescence, Halestorm, Peter Gabriel, and Nine Inch Nails as major influences, the former two most evident thanks to singer Lyric’s vocal delivery. She wrenches every bit of drama out of “Love Lies” lines like “I am sick, sick as a dog, out of my mind, stomach in knots, I die.”
Her bandmates, meanwhile, create a rich, goth-lite tapestry with tasteful baroque-metal guitar, cascading funeral-swirl keys, and rock-steady drums.
There’s a lot to process on Dear Father, a concept-album sequel to 2016’s Afraid to Sleep. The record continues to trace the story of a character called Alberta, whose alcohol- and drug-fuelled upbringing seemingly crosses lines with that of Lyric—even though real names have been changed.
Head explains the record like this: “Dear Father is the final chapter which unravels the sickness and reveals the hold her abusive father had on her.” In case that mission statement isn’t potent enough, head to Track 4, “The Prayer”, a spoken-word piece that starts with midnight-in-the-forest keys and “Now I lay me down to sleep,” and ends with “And dear God, please don’t let father kill us tonight…amen.”
Get through the considerable trauma (“I crawl through these toxic streets, among survivors/Looking for the quickest fix,” from “Breathe”) and you eventually end up in a place of hope with the final pre-hidden-track instrumental, “The Tail”. The song’s punctuated with comfortably numb guitar solos and black-tower keys.
Given all that Alberta has been through—think a microcosm of the misery in the Downtown Eastside—a happy ending is too much to hope for. But “The Tail” is the kind of meditative number that lets you make movies in your mind.
The beauty of that? You get to write—hopefully like Lyric and Alberta—your own ending.