YOUNG GALAXY at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (May 31), 9 pm. $15. HS, RT, SS, TF. See listing.
Catherine McCandless is taking a break from sound-checking in Oslo, Norway, where her band, Young Galaxy, will perform in a few hours.
"I'm currently standing on a bridge looking at this beautiful, slow-moving river with willows hanging over it," says the lead singer over the phone. "There's a floating papier-mâché swan statue that's also a cock and balls, and it's 5 feet long. It's in the middle of this Impressionist landscape imagery - this big, white, phallic swan."
It's obvious from this impromptu scene-setting that McCandless is a storyteller. And "Impressionist" is an excellent way to describe Ultramarine (Paper Bag), Young Galaxy's fourth album. On it, she takes us through a series of beautiful settings via electro power-pop tunes unashamedly sweet and earnest in nature.
They were informed, she says, by "Sweden's very comfortable pop sensibility." The five-piece has actually just come from a show in that country's university city of Linköping - the first time they've played there since the new album came out.
Sweden is significant for a couple of reasons. It's home to Ultramarine's producer, Dan Lissvik, who also produced third album Shapeshifting entirely via Skype. For Ultramarine, the band packed up its instruments, as well as McCandless's and vocalist/guitarist Stephen Ramsay's toddler son, for a month-long session overseas.
"Speaking very generally about Swedish pop, it can be whatever it wants to be, but it's got these sweet harmonies and the right guitar hooks," says McCandless.
"That plays a part on Ultramarine because it's some of what we were listening to [when we were making it], but also because our producer is comfortable with areas that perhaps North American producers might think were cheap or clichéd."
Judging by the buzz surrounding the new record, the Scando-pop sound will go over well when YG play their first post-Ultramarine concert on home soil on Friday.
There are certain tunes McCandless is pumped to perform, but she's not naming names.
"They're the ones that allow us to take the more electronic elements and use them as a structure to improvise around. They end up being more like jams. We've been super-jazzed about playing this live, finally."