Mind Those Moments
Throughout Mourning Trance, Toronto-based Still Life Still’s latest album, the band mines the better angles of ’90s pop and rock and melds that with the musical sensibilities of the Toronto scene. The band is part of the Arts & Crafts family, one of Canada’s most respected labels, and that essence is present throughout the album.
It is also a bit of a departure from the band’s debut, Girls Come Too. It’s less about the party and more about the beauty inherent in simply living and the private, contemplative moments involved in that. These are gorgeous and straightforward pop songs laced with hooks, whether from the vocals and guitars of Brendon Saarinen and Eric Young or the keyboards of Josh Romaniuk. Despite its mostly easygoing, 90-beats-per-minute vibe, Mourning Trance is catchy. Even the lesser songs are packed with earworms.
Opener “Burial Suit” is a minor-chord groover held together with a brilliant and noisy distorted lead part. About halfway through it’s evident that somehow, perhaps subconsciously, Still Life Still enjoyed the 1998 Smashing Pumpkins album, Adore. That record’s blend of wispy acoustic night music and melodic noise permeates the song— if not the entire album.
The title track is the catchiest of the album. The vocal hook variations of “Will I wake up” are repeated to great effect over beautiful synth arpeggios and airy guitars. It has a transformative quality unlike anything else on the album. Another standout, “Werewolves,” has a great chorus and colorful guitar parts. The vocal melody on this one recalls the Talking Heads, while the instrumentation seems poised to send up an homage to The War on Drugs.
Ultimately, Mourning Trance is an utterly appropriate title for this album. It is not a record for vibrant Friday nights so much as it is one for those ruminative late Sunday afternoons when you’re not sure whether to be filled with hope or dread for the week ahead and regret or accomplishment for the week prior. Whatever the case may be, Mourning Trance will be with you the whole way.