Organic and urgent, this double-edged record ultimately unites its light and dark sides.
The Polaris Prize, which recognizes the best in Canadian music regardless of genre, commercial success, or label support, recently released its 2014 Long List of nominees. Included on the delightfully weird list are acts as varied as Quebec technical death metal veterans Gorguts, gospel-influenced and grunge-flecked indie rockers Rae Spoon, and Tanya Tagaq with her experimental take on Inuk throat singing. One of the Toronto-based bands to get a long-list nod is Odonis Odonis, whose sophomore record, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled, attempts to strike a balance between contrasting and often competing aesthetics.
Like a moon in captured rotation, one side of the record is set in permanent night, while the other is set in perpetual daylight. The first half of the record revels in its darkness, a blackened industrial landscape that relishes moments of sleek, machined efficiency as well as the broken grating of metal on metal and the sludge of pollution. The second half of the record seems to relax, unclench, and blossom, replacing metallic harshness with fresh, fragrant shoegaze.
There’s a joy in the disparity between the album’s sides, and an urgency that unites those light and dark halves. There isn’t much of a segue from one to the next, merely an instrumental hinge entitled “Release,” but there is nonetheless a sense of gradual unravelling, a transition at work. Each half manages to work its respective tentacles and tendrils into the other, with moments of crunchy, textured darkness occasionally offsetting the sparkling textures on the latter half, or a sudden gentleness interrupting the throbbing intensity of the former. Cheeky and compelling, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled is not at war with itself so much as it first seems.