At a time when many bands challenge listeners with fuzzy aesthetics (No Age) or glitchy pop (Animal Collective), it is nice to occasionally be instantly gratified. Forgiveness Rock Record, the latest from this Canadian collective, is a masterful, exuberant and simply enjoyable work. In true throwback fashion, it is a rock record—which means that even the tetchy moments and languid passages are beguiling, catchy or fun.
Opener "World Sick" is an expansive rocker, mixing rawness with professionalism as it sways from cathartic bursts to floating, elegiac passages. "Chase Scene," with its whiplash guitar, stabbing violin arpeggios and heavy low-end backbone, is dramatically cinematic in the best possible way. Meanwhile, the band's restraint and abandon are highlighted through the hiccupping rhythms of "Texico Bitches" and the trilling heights of "Forced to Love." And those are just the Kevin Drew-fronted numbers.
Andrew Whiteman's "Art House Director" is a beautiful, fuzzy mess with peppy horns; Brendan Canning's shaggy-dog rocker "Water in Hell" oozes jubilant bombast; and Emily Haines' "Sentimental X's" is a glittery art-pop triumph. With the exception of the slight, closing ditty, "Me and My Hand," presumably an ode to self-love, there are no misfires.
"Meet Me in the Basement" is a marching, indie ELO number; "Sweetest Kill" is seductive, vamping neo-noir; and "Highway Slipper Jam" mixes folky instrumentation with urbane casualness. The wide-open songs here make for an ideal summer companion, whether you are roasting in the car or sitting around the pool.