1. Top Five of 2011 Part 2: Yer Spring

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Yer Spring - Hey Rosetta

    "Seeds", and Hey Rosetta remain inexplicably (and criminally) underrated. They are definitely one of the best bands in Canada, and likely one of the best in the world. When I think of music that makes me proud to be Canadian, Hey Rosetta is invariably one of the first that comes to mind. They're really that good.

    I also think "Seeds" is the best thing they've ever done. 2008s "Into Your Lungs" was a huge achievement, but "Seeds" does something pretty remarkable in its nuance: It dials it all back a bit.

    "Into Your Lungs" had everything - huge emotional climaxes, grinding guitars, vocal catharsis and whispered tenderness. The range covered is massive, and the results are very impressive. Hawksley Workman gave the band a sonic palette to match the enormous appetite of the songs, and listeners are delivered track after track of epics. Five and six-minute songs that change pace and tone sometimes three times. It's astonishing, but it's also sometimes exhausting.

    I am a big fan of "Into Your Lungs", and don't get me wrong. There is a big place in my heart for sprawling, wrenching works like "Tired Eyes". But simplicity can work at least as well for Hey Rosetta. Some of the most singular songs on that disc - "New Goodbye", "A Thousand Suns", "Psalm" - were also some of the best. And with this in mind, enter "Seeds".

    "Seeds" is a refinement. It takes the daring, the poetry and the enormous musicality of the former album and hones it to a razor's edge. It sounds a little different, but as far as I'm concerned, almost nothing is lost and a great deal is gained. "Welcome" is, in almost every regard, a perfect rock song. "Young Glass" contemplates and then becomes an anthem before you've even noticed. And then "Yer Spring".

    For all the talk of simplicity, "Yer Spring" is actually among the most complex songs on the album, but it never feels that way to me. Washed out reverb crashes into a drum feature, building to an eastern-flavoured string breakdown, distorted vocal tension and finally rockout release. I can hardly think of another band that could pull that off at all, let alone with this much grace and style. Where "Into Your Lungs" drew attention to these big moments and shifting sections, the songs on "Seeds" dance through them with utter finesse. "Yer Spring" is as complicated and daring as anything they've ever done, but Hey Rosetta has the confidence here to let is soar without even waiting for the breathless listener to catch up.

    I still don't know if I've fully caught up. But I do know this. I had the privilege this year of listening to one of the best bands in the world at the height of their powers.


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