When Montreal's The Unicorns broke up in 2004, indie rock kids mourned the death of a band known for its zany hooks and quirky lyrics. Of course, all was not lost, thanks to the emergence of Islands, which also featured Nick Thorburn and Jamie Thompson. But something was still missing. Enter Clues: the musical project founded by fellow ex-Unicorn, Alden Penner, and Arcade Fire's Brendan Reed. Haven't heard of them? Well that's not surprising. Clues' self-titled debut album doesn't drop until May, and the band made a conscious decision not to join any social networks — including Myspace. Instead, the group takes more of a grassroots approach by slowly building up its reputation largely through house shows in the Montreal area.
Though Clues may not be as spastic or off-kilter as its predecessor, its upcoming LP sparkles in its own right and is not without catchy hooks, strange beats, and colorful lyrics. From start to finish, Clues packs in surprises and comes off as an enigmatic adventure album thanks to lyrics about dragons, severed heads, a throne, death, victory, and caves. With its eerie sound effects, oddly detached vocals, and recurring melodies and lyrics, "In the Dream" is delightfully unsettling and mysterious, and "Perfect Fit" is a mini schizophrenic symphony with constantly changing tempos.
But Clues isn't just a gimmicks album. While the majority of the album is inventive and upbeat, slower, piano-driven melodies drive songs like "Elope" and "Let's Get Strong," showing that an ear for songwriting lurks beneath all the charming quirks that make it shine.
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