Review: Said The Whale’s Hawaii

-Reviewed by Mario Breau

Juno award winning five-piece band Said The Whale from way over in Vancouver, BC, have released a new album: Hawaii. And it sounds great. Literally. The aural experience is very nice with a full and balanced full mix; it is clean and clear. The indie pop/rock band recorded at Monarch Studios with Tom Dobrzanski and Tyler Bancroft as producers. For more such details, check out their amusing liner notes when you *ahem* buy the new album. Now that we’ve plowed through the formalities, let’s look at the music.

More Than This: What a curious little opening track. It is gentle and flowing with backing vocals immediately reminiscent of Patrick Watson, ending with a mini-burst of Queen harmonies. How pleasant. From here though, Mother starts kicking up dust pretty fast, and the energy levels remain fairly high, only settling momentarily here and there. I Love You, another high-energy track carries further forward and features Beach Boys style vocals in the bridge.

Speaking of which, there are a number of influences, conscious or not, showing through on this album. As already mentioned, there are brief moments of Queen and Patrick Watson, with a heaping helping of Beach Boys harmonies. But there are also touches of The Decemberists in the “La da da da da”s of Narrows, and even some Abba working its way into tracks like Mother. Oh, and there’s a bit of rap at the end of Resolutions. I know, right? Who does that?

As a turn from their previous album, Little Mountain, there’s a little more emphasis on synthesizers, boosting the high energy and pop aspects of their music. With the term “pop” comes “catchy” and Said the Whale doesn’t disappoint in that respect. But what stood out the most for me was the freedom of voice in Narrows and Oh K, Okay. Referring to the latter, it takes experience for a singer to be able to weave together a warm whisper and a wearied wail.

Despite living at the other end of the country, they’re coming to visit us here in Fredericton, and will be playing at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre on November 5th. Come out and enjoy some indie pop/rock while we collectively challenge them to a head-bobbing and hip-swaying competition.

Stream the new album HERE!
Catch Said The Whale at the Charlotte St Arts Centre Nov. 5 w/ Toronto pop-rockers Alvvays.

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