Too many people assume delicate pop music means simpering, over-sugared trifles that veer too far toward either wimpy or whiny. That goes double when strings come into the mix. Amazingly, Brantford-bred Toronto ensemble Ohbijou have mastered the fine art of crafting orchestral pop tunes that are painstakingly precise without ever suggesting preciousness. Part of that comes from Casey Mecija's birdlike soprano, which floats nimbly over stair-step melodies that are echoed from track to track (the three-note pattern of St. Francis repeats, refracted, six tracks later in Steep), and is layered with featherweight harmonies that recall Jale's softer moments. Ohbijou also made the savvy choice of recruiting Leon Taheny (Final Fantasy), a man skilled at balancing the different textures of multiple instruments without building too much density into the production. He understands when to pull back excess flute or banjo to leave space, then adds layers to lend a driving energy to even the most fragile songs. Factor in multivalent songwriting that's initially innocuous but reveals darker shades upon further listens and you've got a powerful and heart-tuggingly beautiful debut.
Ohbijou launch their disc at the Drake Friday (September 1).