Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Folk: "We All Say" (album review)

We All Say is the debut full length release from Guelph/Toronto quintet The Folk.  This record comes on the heals of three EPs, and features songwriting from every member.

As you can imagine, being a conglomeration of the work of multiple songwriters, We All Say features a multitude of diverse musical styles, which are sometimes at odds with each other.

The tunes range from the wonderfully menacing atmosphere of "I'll See You Again" to the delightfully shimmering power pop of "Subtle Party" and back to the deep brooding grunge riffs of "Soft Dispute".

The most awkward transition, and the harshest one on the ears, is the move from the Black Sabbath/early-Soundgarden influenced "Physical Sound" into the bright Sloan-ish pop of "I Care (If You Care)".  That's not to say that they are poor songs, quite the contrary, however they just don't flow well.

Given the number of authors, one can also expect that the songs would show a varying level of refinement.  It would be correct to assume that.  The somber yet warm "So They Say" is arguably the most complex song on the record, getting fleshed out by the deft addition of found background sounds (including a car alarm).  On the other end of the spectrum is the less sophisticated, but still enjoyable "Staying Up All Night", a minimal folk arrangement that relies on vocal harmonies.

Obviously The Folk enjoy playing together, and they're good at it.  With the wide range of styles on this record though, I can't help but wonder if the listener experience wouldn't be better if they had several configurations and names for the band for each different style.  It would almost certainly make for a more cohesive listen.

The Folk play the Silver Dollar in Toronto on March 15th.

Best tracks: "I Care (If You Care)", "Subtle Play"

Track listing for We All Say:
  • In Silence
  • Subtle Play
  • So They Say
  • Soft Dispute
  • I'll See You Again
  • Physical Sound
  • I Care (If You Care)
  • Staying Up All Night
  • Deep Silence
  • We All Say/Basement Feeling

1 comment: said...

Overall, a decent analysis, thanks. I've developed a real connection as a fan of this band over the past few years as they grind it out in the Toronto scene. However, one thing you may not be aware of - Physical Sound is the lead track on the second side of the vinyl and I'm sure it's positioned to shake things up. As well, I heard that this track is their way of communicating the 'live off the floor' recording method used for this album (vs. standard click track recording). Regardless, keep up the good work!