Sound Advice: Liminal by Kelly McMichael and The Gloss

Torontoist

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Sound Advice: Liminal by Kelly McMichael and The Gloss

The rock duo's debut EP is both summery and sad.

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Upon first listen, the debut release from the rock duo Kelly McMichael and The Gloss is deceptively and deliciously solid, especially for something titled Liminal. However, as the listener gradually becomes accustomed to the EP’s bright, dappled sound and silvery charm, the moments of slippage and delightfully disorienting transition become more prominent. McMichael (who is perhaps best known for performing key and backup vocals for Gentlemen Reg) and Geordie Gordon (Islands, The Magic, Diamond Rings) have crafted a debut that is simultaneously warm and unexpectedly slippery.

The mood alternates between languid and spirited, with a cool confidence that effectively obscures moments of vulnerability until the listener is startled by them. For instance, “This City” comes across like a bouncy, ebullient piece, full of slightly crash-heavy drumming, until the chorus combines at just the right conceptual angle with the plaintively strummed guitar for the line, “they want different things in this city.” Suddenly, the song aches with loneliness. The record is full of little moments like this, where it seems to be having such a wonderful time in the sun before it pulls you aside, just for a moment, to confess a frail and golden bit of emotional authenticity.

The production, courtesy of James Bunton (who has also recently worked with The Wooden Sky and Evening Hymns) has a thrumming warmth that plays off the EP’s enthusiasm and softness perfectly. The record’s sound evokes the way everything holds heat in the summer months, a kind of bodily warmth that makes even inanimate objects seems to have beating hearts. The real core, though, is McMichael’s dynamic, melting voice. There’s an effortlessness that makes her singing seem easy to the point of being lackadaisical. She brings a breathtaking, quiet command to softer moments. Liminal is something special.

Kelly McMichael and The Gloss are celebrating Liminal with a release party in Toronto on Wednesday, July 31 at Clinton’s (693 Bloor Street West). Doors are at 9 p.m. and cover is $6, or $10 for cover and a CD. Blimp Rock and The Magic will also perform.

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