With a review there is a tendency to want to tell a story about the album, to end on the final scene where you reveal what you ultimately think of it. To do that with “Animal”, the new album by Toronto-based alternative-ambient-gazer Jonathan Relph (recording as Indoor Voices), would just be wrong. Wrong because it is brilliant and it feels insulting to wait until the end to say that.
With no knowledge of the background of this album, of why or how it’s been made or the meaning of it we hit play and listened to it cold. Within a minute of the opener, “He Won’t Fight”, it’s clear that the sound of this album is everything. There’s an argument that says that this isn’t really even an album. That it’s not a collection of ten songs bound together. It all glides and blends together so perfectly that there isn’t really a beginning, middle or an end. It feels like all that beautifully layered and textured sound (because it is ‘sound’ rather than ‘song’) is still happening even though the headphones are now off.
Fuzz and reverb often underscore everything and sometimes are wielded just to the edge of overwhelming, but always kept from collapsing totally to create a constant tension about what’s coming next. The sound keeps evolving and moving, completely alive.
By the time you get to the title track, you’re out there amongst the starlight. You’re feeling the ripples as worlds and melodies are created around you during “Wrong Wrong Wrong”. Galaxies beam tremolo pulses at you on “Better”. Everything matters and nothing is wasted. With each new listen there is more to find, more to carry you away. Partly mastered by Simon Scott of Slowdive, it sounds gorgeous. Whether this is shoegaze, dream-pop, ambient or soundscape doesn’t matter. This isn’t music, this is emotion made solid.
When the aliens do finally arrive to judge us for all our faults, we should give them “Animal” and say that at least one of us made this. Maybe that will be enough.
Review by Jimmy & Mark of the band Corasandel.
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