ALDEN PENNER plays the Silver Dollar tonight (Thursday, February 13). See listing. Rating: NNNN
When Montreal indie pop messiahs the Unicorns broke up nearly 10 years ago, fans squarely aligned themselves with the band's disparate leaders, Alden Penner and Nick Thorburn. While Thorburn has gone on to release several albums as Islands, Team Penners have patiently awaited a solo LP. Finally, he's released Exegesis. And, yes, it was worth the wait.
The record showcases the artist's knack for combining simple pop melodies with experimental digressions, a trick he picked up with his former one-album-wonder band, Clues. Songs like Losing My Head and A Beautiful Dream open twinkly and upbeat before becoming electric and rapturous in their second halves.
Penner can fit a whole lot of ideas into a two-minute song, no doubt thanks to his Unicorns days. While at times it would have been interesting to hear him push his ideas a little further and songs a little longer, each tune still packs a memorable punch.
Top track: Losing My Head