Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Fun. While that one word descriptor might not earn me many plaudits in the adjective-addicted world of music blogging, it's definitely the word that comes to mind when I think of uber-bubbly Toronto indie outfit The Bicycles. That likely won't come as a surprise to anyone who has heard the band, or even better, seen them live, but because being able to truly have fun making music, with no ulterior motive, is something kind of rare these days, I feel like it warrants special mention.
That being said, I don't want to imply that The Bicycles are some kind gimmick band, they make fun music, yes, but it happens to also be very good music. The arrangements are filled with tight grooves, and propelled by a ton of instruments which are blended together so well that you don't feel like you're listening to a bunch of different ingredients that were thrown together for the heck of it. Vocally there's also a lot to like about The Bicycles, as all four members (plus guests!) put their pipes to good use creating some really irresistible harmonies.
One of my consistent bugaboos with modern albums is length, and the fact that digital delivery seems to encourage many bands to make their albums much too long, simply because they can. So it says something about an album when its 19 songs go by in a head-nodding blur and I find myself wishing the band had made the album longer. Well that's the case with Oh No, It's Love, the new long player from The Bicycles. It likely helps that the songs average two minutes in length, so perhaps we can create a new rule: if you're putting more than 12 songs on your album, make sure they average two minutes in length. Agreed? Good.
Despite the fact that The Bicycles to appear to have a general formula to what they do: short, insanely catchy pop songs about falling into, and out of, love, they still manage to work an impressive amount of variation into the songs on Oh No, It's Love. Obviously they have the modern, uptempo pop songs on lock with numbers like Won't She Be Surprised (the simple pleasure of a call and response - Uh-HUH, ohhh yeeeeahhh - like the one found here cannot be discounted), Walk Away, and the Harmonica-infused (courtesy of ex-Plumtree member Catriona Sturton) title track, but they also do sunny, 60's inspired pop better than most, as What a Fool and No One Can Touch You Now ably demonstrate. They also don't mind adding a little alt-country panache to the mix, as the pedal steel on the at-odds pair of Stop Calling Me Baby and Can I Keep Calling You Baby reveal. Then there's the unclassifiable, like the metal-lite opening riff on Sweet Petite, which gives way to appropriately sweet, sax-accompanied pop melodies - an unlikely combo pulled off with aplomb here.
This is probably more rambling than an album full of fantastic short songs requires, and considering Oh No, It's Love is being released today, let's you and I agree to stop right here and you go check it out for yourself. Even better, check out the Bicycles tour list below and see if you can catch their sweetly sweatly live show in your town. The Ack and I saw them at HPX 07, and even a disfunctional bass couldn't keep them from performing one of the best sets we saw during the event.
Peterborough, Ontario @ Montreal House with Young Rival - 6 November
TORONTO, Ontario @ Lee’s Palace!! OH NO IT’S LOVE!!! CD Release Party!!! - 8 November
Thunder Bay, Ontario @ Apollo - 11 November
Winnipeg, Manitoba @ Lo’s Pub - 12 November
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan @ Amigo’s Cantina - 13 November
Edmonton, Alberta @ The Pawn Shop - 14 November
Vancouver, British Columbia @ Di’Metric Studios - 15 November
Calgary, Alberta @ Broken City - 20 November
Regina, Saskatchewan @ The Club/Exchange - 22 November
Kenora, Ontario @ Inn of the Woods - 23 November
Marathon, Ontario @ Marathon High School (all ages) - 24 November
Waterloo, Ontario @ Trepid House - 28 November
Brantford, Ontario @ Ford Plant - 29 November