Thursday, January 12, 2012

Actual Water: "The Paisley Orchard" (album review)

The Paisley Orchard is the forthcoming (out January 24th)third release from Toronto band Actual Water.  It showcases their sound, one which blends up garage rock, '60s folk pop, and psychedelia into a delicious smoothie of indie rock goodness.

The tone is set quickly with the psychedelic jangly rock of "Pale Ways".  Listening to that track makes me feel like this is what The Black Lips would sound like if they were tripping on LSD.  Songs like the modernized Byrds-esque vocal folk of "Dandelion Sun" are strangely majestic, despite their sub-3:00 running times.  "Sleeping In the Garden" provides the record's love-in moment in a way that manages to be sweet without being sappy.

At times the group does go overboard with the effects.  The title track, for instance, is a warped warble-ridden cacophony.  It's an interesting sonic experiment, but one that's unpleasant to listen to.

When the proper balance is struck however, the results are magical.  That's certainly the case with "The Situation", a wall-of-sound number that sound like vintage Jesus & Mary Chain, minus the eardrum-puncturing feedback.  Similarly, "Death Or Glory" erects that wall using melodies and vocal harmonies that don't betray even the smallest chink in it's armour.

I've never been a fan of short fragment songs, and that's no exception on The Paisley Orchard.  Tracks like "For the Clear Grass" only serve to disrupt the flow and momentum of the album.

It's easy to overlook the minor quibbles with a record when you're faced with an effort as original and as compelling as The Paisley Orchard.

Actual Water play a CD release show at Sneaky Dee's in Toronto on January 28th.

Best tracks: "The Situation"

Track listing for The Paisley Orchard:
  • Pale Ways
  • Ivory and Oak
  • La Violence Sur Les Champs-Elysees
  • The Paisley Orchard
  • The Situation
  • Death Or Glory
  • Cyclamen Dew
  • Dandelion Sun
  • Brighton
  • Summer In the End
  • For the Clear Grass
  • Sleeping In the Garden
  • Vari Baby

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