THE BURNING HELL play the Tranzac July 29. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Mathias Kom is one of Canada's most underrated lyricists. Even the Burning Hell's most celebratory songs are infused with a caustic, bittersweet wit that makes you smirk. Flux Capacitor is his first overtly autobiographical album (the first song, in fact, is called My Name Is Mathias) and features deadpan, conversational tales about early development, false moralizing and the perils of nostalgia.
Sounds like heavy material, but it's deployed with a light touch. Even introspective ukulele ballads like the delicate Report Card are undercut by lyrical winks: "Here is my sensitive side / this is my underbelly." Elsewhere, Kom's newly assembled band (he recently relocated from Peterborough to St. John's) beefs up the arrangements with upbeat horns, violins and percussion. It all amounts to a skewed cabaret-pop escapade as fun as it is sad. Not an easy balance to pull off.
Top track: Nostalgia