This seems to be the year many Can-indie faves are returning to the scene, including Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell, back with new music after nearly seven years away. The time since 2010 album Cloak And Cipher was filled with hardship – Powell’s father had a stroke, she lost the new music she’d been working on in a hard-drive crash – but Life After Youth finds her renewed rather than defeated or regretful.
Reuniting with original drummer Bucky Wheaton, Land of Talk pick up where they left off, their guitar-focused indie rock updated with synths and subtle electro effects that add a fresh edge. Opening with the driving Yes You Were, the album soars on Powell’s signature chiming guitar lines and tender vocals while folding in some of the catchiest rhythms yet on a Land of Talk record. It’s like Weeping Tile for the current age (no surprise Weeping Tile’s Sarah Harmer is a big LoT fan), though Powell’s often vague lyrics could use a dose of that band’s compelling imagery.
In addition to her core collaborators, Powell called on a host of all-stars, including Sharon Van Etten, a match that makes perfect musical sense and results in two of the best songs. Thematic centrepiece This Time (“I don’t want to waste it / this time”) is a buoyant indie pop anthem that makes good use of the pair’s similar-sounding vocals, with harmonies set off by bursts of punchy organ-like melodies and propulsive beats. The slower Loving ambles along on guitar squall and a wall of vocal harmonies.
Jangly ballad In Florida – recorded by producer John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile) and backed by former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Roxy Music/Sparks bassist Sal Maida – anchors the album’s slower back half. Assists aside, Land of Talk continue to showcase Powell’s singular musical vision, sounding a hopeful, tuneful note in her long-awaited return.
Top track: This Time
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