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.
On their new album Departing, the Rural Alberta Advantage haven’t actually done much of that at all. Instead, the sophomore full length sounds like it could be the second half of 2008’s Hometowns, with more of the same high-emotional-stakes folk-pop racket. Put simply, if you liked the last record, you’ll like Departing. And if you didn’t, there isn’t too much here that’ll change your mind.
That’s not to say the RAA have made the same record twice; their dedicated, fanbase-building tour schedule over the past three years has certainly tightened up confidence in singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff, singer/keyboardist Amy Cole, and drummer Paul Banwatt individually, allowing them to actually loosen up a bit as a band. Standout track “Tornado ’87” (streaming above) demonstrates Departing‘s lean toward more consistent, tuneful arrangements, but doesn’t sacrifice Banwatt’s razor-sharp, restless timekeeping, still a critical component in the trio’s ability to play with the force of a much larger group. “Muscle Relaxants” and first single “Stamp” are closest to the high-impact raucousness of Hometowns, the former so succinct and catchy it’s easy to imagine as a plugged-in pop-punk song.
Recorded with the same producer, Roger Leavens, the sounds on the album are compatible with Hometowns too, everything crisp, upfront, and undecorated, and Edenloff’s vocals are as earnest and unmistakably distinct as ever. The similarities are initially a tad underwhelming, but Departing quickly compels, the indie accessibility and folk moodiness maneuvering you into familiar territory, which, sometimes, is the best place to be.