Still and Moving Lines
SCQ Rating: 84%
Word has it that Departures aren’t looking for an online presence, and it shows. Despite having Twitter, Facebook and Bandcamp pages, there’s precious little information to gather besides the descriptors “post-punk” and “Winnipeg”. It’s as though well-meaning friends signed them up for a host of social media tools, like parents enrolling their kids in summer soccer, but this quintet doesn’t look like the type to run with a swarm. Even the post-punk parameters that supposedly outline their debut can’t contain several breach points that make Still and Moving Lines so much more than a revivalist’s ploy.
Before “Pillars” establishes an escalating coda of intertwined guitar and taunt percussion, listeners are subjected to a minute or so of cloudy fade-in: fatigued voices in choral with a barren guitar and saloon-drunk piano. While such a non-starter can’t compete with that subsequent first single, it foreshadows a few curves in the road ahead. Between brawny, emotive rock tunes like “Being There”, the summer-long chug of “Swimming” and the memorable, sing-out-loud choruses they deliver, Departures drop wickedly unexpected gems that cater more to imaginative post-rock than any monochromatic love affair with Joy Division. Anchored on a dewy bass riff, “After Today” blossoms out of overlapping ambient swells that gradually connect for a sweet catharsis. At the opposite end of tuneful, “Winter Friend” spends half of its time in an off-kilter percussive stutter, peppered with snarling bouts of feedback, before flipping its sonic gears into an ear-pleasing remedy that rewards whatever faith listeners put into it.
Everything on Still and Moving Lines, from the vaguely synthetic “Left You Here”, which converts to full-band, organic momentum in the end, to the harmonizing, teeth-baring highlight “Sleepless” gels as part of Departures’ raw but alluring canvas. Much like The Wrens’ The Meadowlands, this record seems to engage several identities that, by fluke or determination, prove entirely compatible as one repeatedly surprising new voice. At the risk of upping Departures’ online profile, Still and Moving Lines deserves way more praise than the band’s willing to accept.