What happens when you put a member of the Unicorns into a car on a collision course with another vehicle traveling at a high velocity carrying a member of the Arcade Fire? The question assumes that we have passed our calculus classes and withstanding that we can find the answer in the smaller venues underlying Montréal’s music scene. The resultant impact has created Clues, more specifically Alden Penner and Brendan Reed along with other Montréal musicians Ben Borden, Lisa Gamble, and Nick Scribner. Employing multiple drummers and a bent Commodore 64, the band’s sharp hooks and spastic jams will excite you in ways that calculus never could. Their self-titled debut is due for release on May 19, on hometown label Constellation Records.
Clues began building two summers ago. Masked by whispered rumours and hyped-up concerts, they played a series of unadvertised shows in small venues finally debuting publicly at Pop Montréal. Their arrival on the city’s already burgeoning pop scene has been nothing short of phenomenal, with their strong ties to the independent music community and a tendency to experiment with their extensive collection of instruments, Clues can do no wrong. Their eponymous album is a reflection of just that, their ability to create a palette of music that is reminiscent of early Unicorns, employing abrupt changes in a mosaic of instrumentation. Clues hop through melodies with a baroque twist on songs like ‘Perfect Fit’ leaving listeners scrambling for their clavichords as they spiral into a thumping bass line.
‘Remember Severed Head’ forms a diverse range of harmonies blanketed by Alden Penner’s imaginative vocals that tiptoe through a minefield of drum kicks. Much of Clues album is like throwing a rhythmic gymnast into North Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. Several moments consist of elegant leaps and graceful spins but ultimately there is satisfaction to be found in the rain of bloody mist that ensues after a tragic misstep. ‘Cave Mouth’ is another monument to Clues eclectic apparatus of amazing sounds, cymbals clashing through interim xylophone solos and Brendan Reed building a crescendo of instrumental dynamics. Grab your favourite set of headphones, throw on Clues and prepare to rock out – calculus textbook not required.
(Photograph by Riny van Eijk)