Toronto trio Elliott BROOD were faced with a daunting task when it came to following up their Polaris nominated LP, Mountain Meadows. Even on the most cursory listen, the record grabbed you as the spirited folk/punk anthems exploded out of the speakers — honestly, “Write It All Down For You” is one of the best songs you’ll ever hear in a live venue (with or without pans to bang on).


What really helped Mountain Meadows resonate with fans and critics was the way the trio crafted (fictional) heartbreaking and personal stories set in the historical backdrop of the attacks on the Arkansas wagon train. Sure, the songs got you out of your seat, but the lyrics showed depth and creativity that far surpassed the typical “why’d she leave me” laments of indie folk rock.


All things considered, it makes sense that a trip through the fields, cemeteries and WWI battlefields provided the inspiration for the band’s new album, Days into Years. The impact of the five-day tour through the beautiful fields, rolling hills and the historical towns forever changed by the destruction and death that defined the first great war, was undeniable.


The settings and subject matter are treated with respect. These aren’t explosive tracks to signify battles. The effort feels more subdued, heavy with the weight of sadness, heavy with weight of history and very heavy in sound. Without question, Days into Years sounds denser than previous efforts, pushing the band away from the horrible description of death country and more towards rock n’ roll with the addition of piano and electric guitar.


There are moments of solitary reflection on this record; “If I Get Old” finds the band channeling the thoughts of countless soldiers, wanting nothing more than to make it home and live in peace. “Will They Bury Us?” asks questions most of us are lucky enough to never ask and “Hold You” touches on the bonds of war and the strength you find in the company of relative strangers.


In the hands of less talented songwriters, the efforts might seem hollow or forced, but the BROOD has such an appreciation for history and puts so much life into their stories you can’t help buy buy in. The songs feel like letters home or pages torn from an old diary, rich in emotion and honesty and fear not polished prose or astute observations, but remarkably never sound dated. These songs document the human condition in the worst situations, but thanks to some modern day Canadian anthems and timeless emotions, the BROOD’s songs could be transported to today’s world seamlessly. “Owen Sound” introduces some swirling textures and the lead single, “Northern Air” pays respects to a friend no longer here and to the country the band calls home.


Day into Years is the type of progression the band needed to make. New textures and new ideas help keep the band sounding inspired and fresh, but they are still backed by the same passion and historical obsessions. You might not bang on cake sheets for this one, but you will certainly nod along approvingly.

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MP3:: Elliott BROOD - Northern Air