2013’s Reality Bites, Too
The mid-twenties continue to rear their angst-ridden heads for this Canadian indie, somber mini-orchestra folk outfit and its woeful frontman and namesake Aidan Knight. Where the ’90s screamed and distorted rage, this quintet, featuring the songwriter himself and members of the uber-happenin’ music collective The O’Darling, sulk it up symphonically on Small Reveal. It’s the newest release from Knight’s shared label Adventure Boys Club. The poetry is vague and the tempo is slow, but if you feel like you can spare the serotonin, the well-crafted imagery and quietly competent composition will make it worth the mood swings.
Aidan Knight spent his teens on the scene in Vancouver with bands such as Maurice, Toco & Jorge, Vegan Holocaust and Counting Heartbeats. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, he’s played sideman for myriad acts like Hannah Georgas, The Zolas, Dan Mangan, Karkwa, Jeremy Fisher and David Vertesi. Around 2007, he began some home recordings that would be released in the form of two digital EPs. The short format continued after the decision to start the label with his friend and Said The Whale member Tyler Bancroft. Third album Versicolour was released in 2010 to positive reviews.
But while Versiclour is dappled in moments of sunlight like the soulful and hopeful last tune “Jasper,” Small Reveal never deviates from the pale, somber tone of the first track, “Dream Team,” in which he states: “I feel twenty-five and it never was that way / something’s changed inside my heart / and I’m unsure of everything.” Knight continues to address themes of time catching up, regret and reflection in “The Mirror.” The three (three!) instrumental tracks on the record, haughtily titled “Figures I,” “II” and “III” are pretty but superfluous. The last track, “Margaret Downe” is a melodic standout. It’s a tragic, poignant story about a Montana heartbreak. “Margaret in the morning sleeping on her side / strolls into the waves of an ever rising tide.”
Knight’s lyrics seem to find him unafraid of the waves that growing up can cover you in and faces them head-on with a confident factual darkness akin to that of Townes Van Zandt. The horns, strings and harmonies on Small Reveal are pristine and the drumming by Galen Pelly is masterful. Overall, the record is successfully gray in its writing and conception. It strongly presents Knight, his bandmates and The O’Darling as artists to keep an ear out for as they trod through their twenties, though they could benefit by adding a little color to their palate, and maybe even having a little fun sometime.