Happy Pop Family is the latest offering from Monomyth, Canada’s leading purveyors of mid-fi anthemic bedroom pop. Recorded in February of 2015 with Mike Wright (Each Other) at Montreal’s infamous Drones Club, the album has tweaked and refined the sonic palette of their 2014 debut Saturnalia Regalia. The resulting batch of songs is imbued with an almost Blake-ian wonder, delicately balancing like Charlie Chaplin on a taut guitar cable between innocence and experience.
“At the time I was really interested in the idea of liminal spaces,” explains Josh Salter. “I felt like my entire city was full of holes and I kept falling into them.”
Though main songwriters/guitarists Josh Salter and Seamus Dalton (Nap Eyes’ bassist and drummer respectively) are joined by a new rhythm section on their sophomore effort, the two have kept everything in their Happy Pop Family by adding a pair of frequent collaborators. Having previously played in an earlier Dalton helmed project, as well as filling in as guitarist on a recent Nap Eyes tour in Europe, multi-instrumentalist Scott Grundy (Heaven For Real/Quaker Parents) joins on drums while bassist Andrew Mazerolle, who enlisted Salter on bass for his zit-pop project Muncho Joe, returns the favour by providing scintillating low-end on the new record. Both new additions brought a song with them to sweeten the pot, making this a truly family affair.
“This is the sound of four friends in a room making music,” says guitarist Seamus Dalton.
These 11 songs are like the manic thrill of a house of mirrors: warped pop music, subtly shifting the closer you move towards them. Like cousins at a family reunion, these genes mutate slightly: Indie Pop. Slacker Pop. Noise Pop. Power Pop. Twee Pop. Some may be hairier than the others but the DNA remains the same. Themes of isolation and escapism (“Aloha,” “Drinking in Bed in E,” “Go Somewhere),” love lost (“Fuck With Me,” “Cool Blue Hello,” “Palpitations”), meditations on domesticity (“Falling in Love,” “High on Sunshine”), and even the mundanity of being in a rock and roll band (“Re: Lease Life,” “Puppet Creek,” “New Year’s Resolve”) intersect throughout.
Analog fetishists take note: the album was recorded to tape and mixed straight off the board, adding idiosyncratic charm and character to the songs. Chiming guitars and vocal harmonies intertwine with inventive drumming and buoyant basslines, while nylon guitar, acoustic 12-string, Rhodes piano, and synth make occasional appearances to add colour and texture throughout. Their inventive blend of jangle and fuzz would slide in comfortably alongside the back catalogs of Creation, Flying Nun or Ork Records. Like a family heirloom, these pop gems shine, refracting one another’s light to create a diamond-like unity.
RIYL: Teenage Fanclub, The Bats, Television Personalities, The Soft Boys, Guided By Voices, Big Star, The Byrds, The Velvet Underground, Cleaners From Venus, Pavement
2. Puppet Creek
3. Re: Lease Life (Place 2 Go)
4. Drinking in Bed in E
5. Cool Blue Hello
6. Falling in Love
7. High on Sunshine
8. Go Somewhere
10. New Year’s Resolver
11. Fuck With Me