Karkwa’s 2010 Polaris Prize win was certainly an astounding moment in the history of Canadian indie rock, but Patrick Watson had already set a precedent for unlikely triumphs by taking home the $20K award in its second year for their 2006 album, Close to Paradise. And though the Montreal band (and its eponymous bandleader) has yet to top the soaring pop perfection of that triumphant album, their latest effort, Adventures in Your Own Backyard is a convincing argument for encouraging our eccentric talents.
Like 2009’s Wooden Arms, Adventures is a pensive and downtempo affair, where slow-burning melodies take entire songs to ignite memorable hooks, and Watson and his collaborators often eschew anything resembling a chorus. But that’s actually a testament to the band’s musicianship: The moments where they do let loose, like the middle section of “Step Out for a While” or the psych-rock colourings of “Morning Sheets,” make you wonder where all that intensity came from.
Which means that if you’re not paying attention, you’ll likely spend a lot of time skipping back to the beginnings of songs. And that’s actually a good thing, since few of these tunes are memorable enough to get stuck in your head, but are worthy sonic adventures nonetheless.
Playlist picks: “Morning Sheets,” “Quiet Crowd”