The husband-wife duo Whitehorse started with a business proposition, not a marriage proposal: Melissa McClelland enlisted the help of fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Luke Doucet to produce her 2004 album, Stranded in Suburbia.
It took them until last year to set aside solo careers and translate their real-life marriage into a musical one.
This sophomore album is further proof that McClelland’s understated musicianship is a good match for Doucet’s gritty vocals and brazen guitar work. His twangy electric opens the album on “Achilles’ Desire,” a sly, bluesy number that establishes the album’s solid foundation of harmony-laden melodies and undeniably catchy choruses. There’s a sonic variety in the songs, from the conversational call-and-response balladry of “Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song)” to the octave-hopping, folk-turned-disco bassline on “Jane” to “Cold July,” which would feel at home on Kathleen Edwards’ Polaris short-listed Voyageur.
One notable misstep is the overbearing and simplistic guitar line on “Peterbilt Coalmine,” which betrays the maturity of the rest of the album. But The Fate seldom lags, which leaves you rooting for Doucet and McClelland’s marriage to survive—if not for the fate of the world, then at least for the good of Canadian music.
Playlist Picks: “Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song),” “No Glamour in ihe Hammer”
Whitehorse play the Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington Ave.) on Aug. 28, and Massey Hall (178 Victoria St.) on March 2, 2013.