One of the surprises on the 2010 Polaris Prize long list was Apollo Ghosts' Mount Benson, admired for its conceptual lyrics, hooky guitar rock, idiosyncratic tangents and the heartfelt emotion heard in singer/guitarist Adrian Teacher's vocals.
For their follow-up, the Vancouver four-piece take a looser punk rock approach that better matches their live show (last witnessed in Toronto at the Ossington's wee backroom bar). The 15 brief songs have a tossed-off feel; many of the tunes, in fact, sound stumbled through.
The hooks are still intact, though, and Teacher's honest, casual and immediate lyrics remain the highlight. He has a way of being introspective without ever getting heavy. What Are Your Influences? stands out for its melodies, Paralysis Of My Long Clerkship for its breakneck ending, and Will You Forget Me? for its surprising tenderness.
It all adds up to something scrappy, varied and charming, unlikely to be a big-prize contender but a terrific document of a young band taking chances.
Top track: Paralysis Of My Long Clerkship