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.
While it’s no secret that we’ve got a wimpy soft spot for lush, melodic indie rock with banjos and acoustic guitars, we’re tough enough (swear!) to dig melodies with a bit of balls, too. Few do it as well as local husband-and-wife thrash duo Lullabye Arkestra, and Threats/Worship is a stripped-down, fast, and heavy tag-team triumph whose genre at times masks just how angry and eerie it can get. Also, A+ on the title.
With Justin Small on drums, Katia Taylor-Small on bass, and both on shared/traded vocal duties, Lullabye has sacrificed musicians, recording time, and a label to achieve the raw simplicity of Threats/Worship. 2006’s Ampgrave was buoyed by Small’s post-indie pedigree (he’s also a member of Do Make Say Think) and found a home for its dirty soul-rock organ-and-horn romps on Montreal’s artsy Constellation Records. But touring the record with limited resources was a revelation to the duo and when it came time to record again, they favoured lo-fi live takes over layered production, a direction that has shifted the group closer to the edge and passion that fuelled both their personal and professional formation, and at the same time, shifted them over to a new home at Vice Records.
Don’t be fooled by the wedded bliss; Lullabye, as always, oozes more Motorhead than Mates of State. Obliterating fears of what lurks in the dark (“We Fuck the Night”), the music business (“Surviving the Year of the Wolves”) and recent presidential administrations (“Telepathic President,” streaming above), Small and Taylor do it with a confidence and fury that’s at once terrifying and reassuring (as in, these are the people you’d want around in case of zombies). But just beneath the frenzy is a smirk, and though the intensity is intelligent and light hearted, it certainly isn’t feigned. Comparisons to other twosome Death From Above 1979 are easy but not entirely inaccurate, even if the now-split dance-metal dudes were never as heavy as Lullabye is on “This Is a Storm”; its gut-rattling bass and messy drums give way to a sludgy, slowed down (but not eased up) bridge that wraps up in a flash with Taylor at her most maniacal, wailing and winning against the huge wall of just two measly instruments.
Threats/Worship wraps up with the tipsy ballad “Sad Sad Story,” a song so country you’d swear you could hear a twang, but it’s still just a bass, a set of drums, and two people whose full dimension and creativity are just being tapped into.
Lullabye Arkestra plays a CD release show at the Poor Alex Theatre at 9 p.m. on Thursday September 3 with Danger Bay, Brides, and Metz ($8).