Not to be mistaken for the Kanye West album that never was, Fades is the second release from Ontario-based indie rock band Don Vail. The band is comprised of Broken Social Scene alums Bill Priddle and Mitch Bowden; David Dunham, who worked with Bowden in the early ‘00s group Chore; as well as Bob Wilcox, Jordon Zadorozny (Blinker The Star), Kori Pop, and Luke Bentham (The Dirty Nil). With the distinct differences in sound that each member brings to the table, it is no wonder this new Don Vail record has caught my attention.
This album has a strong opener, the single “Personal League,” which got a video treatment to add to its sultry moodiness. The track’s steady fuzz and even steadier vocals thrust you into an 8-track EP that straddles a line between loving dream-pop and softcore self-loathing.
Don Vail sounds a little like The Cribs, but missing is the angst and attitude that I remember projecting onto records such as Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. I knew and loved The Cribs when I was a teenager, but today I can only associate them with the stresses of high school; happily, I don’t have that bias for Fades. You could say I’ve matured, or you could chalk it up to the band’s chemistry. This release is a swell of healthy emotional expression, never flying off the handle or wallowing in too much self-pity. Simple chord progressions guide you to a happy place, one where time is determined by the endurance of the bassline and distant vocal overlays are the main form of currency.
The record is awash in fun pop-rock tendencies, but even at its pop-rockiest peak during the instrumental “Only Exes,” it is very clear that this band means business; the latter half of that track is somehow ominous and comforting all at the same time. Save for a few shouts toward the end of the release, Don Vail keeps it grounded.
Fades comes out this Friday. Be sure to turn it up until you get lost in the background dissonance.
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