Outside of “The Magician (Camilo)” — which is the jam — I’ve never really had a strong opinion about Said the Whale. I enjoy their breezy take on Indie pop and understand why they charm audience on a nightly basis, but my jaw dropped when I found out just how high the Vancouver quintet’s stock has risen.
The thing is, after watching the band talk about making a career out of musicians, the sacrifices, the lottery like odds of that happening and realizing they actually gave a shit about writing great songs, meeting fans and making new ones, you’d have to be a dick to root against the band and not get excited about the release of New Brighton.
Bottom line, the new four-song teaser EP is an improvement on the best moments of Islands Disappear. As soon as they jump into the nostalgic piano popper, “New Brighton”, you realize these songs could have easily stood alongside songs like “The Magician” or “Black Day in December”, maybe even eclipse the heights those songs reached. Most importantly, the band still pushes their comfort limits enough to satisfy demanding fans. The elements in play are similar, but the band seems more confident and assured. Emotions and tales are presented clearly and melodies are crisp. The tender closer (“Little Bird”) is the type of song fans sing sung eyes closed at shows and “popular” bands spend years trying to write.
The fact that Said the Whale is becoming so tight is by no means a bad thing, just not completely my thing. I can totally see why people swoon over the infectious, airy melodies the band delivers, but I’d like to hear a bit more edge, an edge they are more than capable of creating. “Sandy Bay Fishing Song”, my favorite song on the EP, slams into the shore with the ferocity of a coastal storm (which helps the vocal work shine through the torment like the hopeful glow of a Lighthouse),
Unfortunately, the band changes gears immediately and the harmony laced, smile inducing single, “Lines.” replaces the tension and drama they build so well. Much like books, you have your own motivation for listening to music. If you want an escape from the grey cloud that seems to be hovering over society as the world goes to hell, you can’t go wrong with Said the Whale.