Saturday, March 13, 2010

Let This Be the Last Night We Care - Alcoholic Faith Mission

Let This Be the Last Night We Care

Alcoholic Faith Mission
PonyRec / Paper Garden Records.

SCQ Rating: 83%

In early December, maybe one week before I wrapped 2009 into the year-end picnic basket I call SCQ’s Top Twenty Albums list, 421 Wythe Avenue fell heavily into my lap. With distinct yet connected songs like ‘Escapism’ and ‘Sweet Evelyn’ in tow, 421 Wythe Avenue’s varied flow of bohemian strife and loneliness lent well to those early winter days spent alone with open-flapped boxes, as I hurried my farewell from Toronto. Given that I still listen to it often, I have little doubt Alcoholic Faith Mission’s sophomore could’ve landed on my year-end list had I discovered it a month or two earlier.

But why get hung up on the would’ve-could’ve’s when Alcoholic Faith Mission, easily Denmark’s most promising export, have already churned out another new album? Hot on the heels of their non-stop touring schedule, Let This Be the Last Night We Care wastes no time lamenting their old Brooklyn address, beefing up their quirky anthems with added bombast. From the onset this more muscled approach proves an irresistible upgrade, igniting the determined percussion of ‘My Eyes To See’ and searing into a festival-worthy chorus for ‘Got Love? Got Shellfish!’. Crowding the record’s top half, you’d be forgiven for assuming Alcoholic Faith Mission had rid themselves of the melancholy that shone like rain on Wythe Avenue’s windows – but fear not! As if the Copenhagen quintet found a way to harness those emotional peaks that scattered past releases, Let This Be the Last Night We Care uses those sporadic cases of cathartic genius as a leaping-off point. How else can one explain the chills caused by ‘Put the Virus In You’’s elegiac piano progression? Or the goosebumps behind ‘Sobriety Up and Left’ with Thorben Seiero Jensen’s lyrical stand-still “I heard you called but I was spitting up blood”? These haunting slow-burners not only share the same bolder arrangements that shine on Let This Be the Last Night We Care’s upbeat tracks, but also a genuine passion that energizes the record as a whole. Without doubt, these are heart-on-sleeve songs, heated and longing, but performed with such convincing gusto, Alcoholic Faith Mission turn a pity-party into a breathtaking, combustible listening experience.

There remain a few worthwhile Broken Social Scene comparative points, namely in Alcoholic Faith Mission’s buoyant yet layered instrumentation, but Let This Be the Last Night We Care capitalizes on a few hard-earned, home-made distinctions. Over the course of three and a half minutes, ‘Season Me Right’ morphs from the comforting folk of their last record into a forward-thinking exercise of tuneful dissonance. And words can hardly express the wall-to-wall beauty of ‘Honeydrip’, a late album highlight that showcases the band’s trademarked group-chorus - all voices clamouring together without overpowering one another - while pushing their songwriting to new heights. Explosive and wistful, Let This Be the Last Night We Care somehow begs to be blasted from the stereo as frequently as it deserves careful headphone attention. Year-end lists, get ready!

No comments: