MODE MODERNE with BELIEFS and ELSA at Parts & Labour (1566 Queen West), Friday (June 1), 10 pm. $8. RT, SS. See listing.
After one album, Mode Moderne singer/lyricist Phillip Intile discovered that pop music could be prophetic.
"Our first album prophesied a lot of the things that happened in my life," he says over the phone from Vancouver. "A lot of endings, a lot of change, a lot of fighting against inspiration and fighting against fate."
"That would be so boring!" he scoffs.
Intile initially came together with long-time friend Clint Lofkrantz and producer Felix Fung as an excuse to get away from their girlfriends, get stoned and listen to the Cure, New Order and OMD. Eventually, they began making music, and after writing what Intile calls "probably one of the top three worst songs ever written," they settled into their groove.
In 2009, the Vancouver band released Ghosts Emerging, a debut album that drew heavily upon erudite, Morrissey-style vocal moping and the 80s new-romantic synth-pop sound they'd bonded over. Three years later, they've replaced their drum machine with drummer Sean Gilhooly, recruited synth player Rebecca Marie Law Gray, signed to Light Organ and released the sardonic single Real Goths.
Their new EP, Strange Bruises, remains firmly entrenched in the brooding, reverbed sound, though their lyrics have evolved from broad pop fodder to expressly personal and erotically charged material.
"On Ghosts Emerging," he says, "I'd go, ‘Okay, I wanna make pop music, so the songs have to be about - or have to seem to be about - boys or girls, but I can [also] write about things like fate or luck.' I thought that if I'm singing about girls, then people would immediately gravitate toward it - as I would - but hopefully they'd stick around and see that there's more going on."
On Strange Bruises, self-loathing is the order of the day. "The opener [Nightly Youths], which seems like such a lovely song, is really about holding hands with nothing," he explains. "It's a pretty strong personal fucking slap across somebody's face."
Mode Moderne also spent more time allowing the songs to gestate before heading into the studio.
"The first thing that comes to mind is not the best thing," Intile says about songwriting. "Like a photographer or a writer, you need to be able to edit. You're a fool if you think every idea that comes to mind is the right one."