The next great siren from up north comes out full-bore on Land of Talk’s debut LP, Some Are Lakes. Emerging from Montreal, Quebec in 2006 with Applause Cheer Boo Hiss EP (QRO review), Elizabeth Powell laid her distinctive vocals and guitar as Land of Talk. Now with bassist Chris McCarron and drummer Andrew Barr (The Slip – QRO live review) Powell builds upon her high, pressing indie-jangle into something both grander and yet more personal, but all together impressive, with Some Are Lakes.
The first side of Lakes is perhaps its less out-and-out ‘rock’ half, as Powell delivers a high carry-but-jangle with opener “Yuppy Flu”, keeping her wistful tone distant. Her air is even more melancholy on the following “Death by Fire”, a sad relax, yet Land of Talk does vary up the elements. “The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)” has a peppy march-beat laid above its sad wash, and some up-swing horn sounds in the background (feeling a bit like Canadian all-star collective Broken Social Scene (QRO interview), if bandleader Kevin Drew was a young woman with fewer friends).
Maybe Lakes’s most diverse section is in its middle, with the title track, “Give Me Back My Heart Attack”, and “It’s Okay”. “Heart Attack” is an effective, driving jangle, when combined with Powell’s high vox effects and perfectly-timed stop/starts, giving it a frantic nature that is still energizing. However, the following “Okay” utterly turns the tables: slow, sad, and completely moving, it breaks the heart that’s just been given back. And leading into it all is “Some Are Lakes”, which serves excellently as the album’s titular item, combining the record’s high atmosphere and rockin’ elements.
As the other shore comes closer into view, Lakes doesn’t slack off. “Young Bridge”, re-recorded from the original version on the 2007 European release of Applause, has improved upon the already-strong song with a well-done back-up chorus. Powell then gets a chance to really shred on the pressing and evocative rocker, “Corner Phone”, but she returns to the high, pretty, jangle-wist emotion when she’s “Got a Call”. Still playing against expectations, right up until the end, Land of Talk end with the sad, acoustic “Troubled”.
Like “The Man Who Breaks Things”, “Troubled” also has those BSS-like horns in the background, and the comparison isn’t out of left field. Right after Lakes’s release, Land of Talk heads out on tour opening for the Canadian super-group, with Powell also doing the female vocalist duties for the headliner. She’s filling the spot previously held by such breakout Maple Leaf songstresses as Stars’ Amy Millan (QRO live review), Metric’s Emily Haines (QRO live review), and Feist’s Leslie Feist (QRO live review). QRO said that Land of Talk were “about to blow up” (QRO, 4/6/07) over a year-and-a-half ago, and have never looked so prescient. Whether on Land or sea, Canada has a new lady of the Lakes…