Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Anyone who follows this sort of thing probably remembers the oohs and aahs that followed after The Most Serene Republic signed to Arts&Crafts; they were the first non-Broken Social Scene-affiliated band to do so, but their inclusion was a natural fit. The Milton, Ontario, septet drew both praise and criticism for their proggy art-pop likeness to their label daddies, and on their new release, …And the Ever Expanding Universe, they don’t seem to be in a hurry to change many minds (“Phi 2”).
Like the best moments on 2007’s Population, this band can tap into something truly grand when the saturated soundscapes are given melodies and direction and the songs are able to swell like they should, turning into enthralling pieces of pure ecstatic transcendence (“Heavens to Purgatory”). Like recent epics such as Animal Collective’s “My Girls” or Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks,” these moments bypass genre (indie rock? Electro? Spazz-pop?) and scene and taste, and an era—a digital, instant, hear-and-make-anything-you-want era—is heard in its vast, but ultimately fleeting, glory. TMSR are at their most mediocre when the stop-starts and odd parts are never fully strung together; too weak to stand on their own and too busy to be at all poignant, it’s too much (it’s everything) at once and your ears feel like a cartoon head swarmed by bees (“The Old Forever New Things”). Messy, cutesy, artsy indie rock can never really be bad (it’s at least usually interesting), but it can be disappointing, and TMSR tread too close to grounds of greatness to be forgiven the side-stepping transgressions.
Remember your high school guidance counsellor and her favourite phrase, “unfocused potential”? Or was that just us? Either way, if TMSR ever decide to cut out the filler—like the six-minute quasi-classical instrumental “Patternicity”—they could easily earn their A+.