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.
For all the knowing-wink novelty that pours out of each record by Peterborough’s The Burning Hell, there exists a sweet and pure core that is stunningly straightforward and, quite simply, refreshing. This Charmed Life, out now digitally through weewerk and Zunior and at live shows as a twelve-inch LP, is a new collection of songs from a stripped-down version of the typically bursting joke-folk crew, and while a trip to quiet West Coast locales may have calmed the arrangements, singer/songwriter Mathias Kom’s eyes are as wide as ever.
Kom’s narrative is a style almost obnoxiously childish in its delivery; a running conversational commentary on everything from last season’s snow (“Last Winter,” streaming to the right) to going on a long bus ride (“The Things That People Make, Part 3 [West Coast Version]”) and the people, places, and things (all strange) that catch his eye along the way. But as a discography unfolds and the themes and the sounds change, it’s this little-things principle, the lost art of the pedestrian route, that forms Kom as a writer. “This charmed life is charming beyond measure,” he sings, and it’s most charming in his obliviousness to his own quirky role. With but a third of their regular members and instrumentation—just a sparse bed of ukelele, cello, and tiny tin sounds—The Burning Hell sound more put together than ever, comfy and on the fringe.
With his deep, deadpan drawl and totally frank everydayisms, Kom has an enviable hold on long-forgotten basics; This Charmed Life is never goofy, but always funny, lighthearted, and honest, and Kom, increasingly, an uplifting scribe for world-weary optimists.