Stuck in a present loop of timewarp, Vancouver quartet cook up a stormy trip beyond urban tinsel.
Classic hard rock rarely burdens itself with quality storytelling, yet this Canadian ensemble wouldn’t let such notions hamper their progress, and the foursome’s third longplay – rooted in the ’70s and looking to the future – never stays in one place. Still, there’s a concept axis for it to revolve around, each number on the record being a small spectacle of an aural stripe. Heavy if melodic and deliciously unpredictable, “Thunderbird” will live up to the group’s name by alternately roaring and soaring – and occasionally revving up like a legendary vehicle.
Here, the album is a vehicle for telling tales, though, with an alluring setting to explore. It’s impossible to escape the neon-lit oratorio-like lead-in to “Liar (Fool’s Gold)” whose infectious riff is brief enough to have any ear hooked and abate for a dynamic lapse that must keep the listener on their toes as the piece’s predatory pace shapes up the funk-stricken narrative, while Brice Tabish’s filigree guitars draw Marc LaFrance’s voice to the verge of sarcasm until the choruses of “On The Brink” rip the flamenco-laced pleasure to shreds. Constant tempo shifts directed by Rob Becker’s bass and Kelly Stodola’s drums propel acoustic strum to desperation, so rock ‘n’ roll licks of “Little Jenny” appear suitably hard for headlines-grabbing horrors packed into this toxic cut, and the singalong-inducing “Rain” taps into bluesy sway to fully embrace sweet theatricality inherent to the band’s modus operandi.
Its entire expanse exposed in the march-enchanted, orchestral grandiosity oozing out of “Vampire” which is unashamedly triumphant, the hymnal regality of “King Rat” reveals the group’s penchant for piano-mapped jazz elegance, and there’s also soft, philosophical lyricism wrapping “Man of Clay” in dewey-eyed reverie to contrast the abrasive edge of “I’m With You” that throws romance out the window, while “Painted Lady” is too quirky and hysterical for its own irony. Rivetingly camp, “Star” may shoot AOR rays all around to show the ensemble’s pop sensibilities, with start-and-stop amplitude of “Into The Sun” upping the overall drive, and the unhurried, harmonies-flaunting “Revolution” exploring cinematic solemnity, but stylistic variety doesn’t matter in the long run because eventually the quartet’s tunes gel to create a solid image. Not for nothing the band named this record after themselves: it should become the foursome’s defining work.