Land of Talk’s debut EP, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, gets a European release with three new bonus tracks. A release that was timed to coincide with the three-piece beginning their opening slot on The Decembrists’ European tour (a tour that was cancelled due the ill health of an unnamed Decembrist), the add-ons don’t reinvent the Montreal act’s more rock-based expansive Canadian sound, but are certainly a welcome addition to the wonderful EP. And, with only seven songs on the original, they comprise an almost fifty percent increase, far more than your usual European bonus.
But first comes Applause’s strong core, starting with the growing, powerful single, “Speak To Me Bones”. Anthemistic, yet one-on-one, singer/guitarist Elizabeth Powell delivers a ‘girl power’ message for the twenty-first century. Follower “Sea Foam” starts slower and softer, before growing in volume and speed; nice as background, it lacks some of the ‘hook’ of “Bones”. But just as single-worthy is the intimate, yet also epic, “Summer Special”, a wistful number about today’s world. The subsequent “Breaxbaxx” plays similar, but not quite as fine.
“Magnetic Hill” goes high in its expanse, yet retains seriousness, with really nice melodies mixed in among the staccato beat. However, it goes on a step too long on record. It is with the following “All My Friends” that this formula is most honed, thanks to pitch-perfect vocals from Powell and darker instrumentation. And the quietly echoing “Street Wheels” provides a nice change on the record, though is also a bit too long.
Of the three new tracks that end this release of Applause, the strongest is the first, “Young Bridge”. High like “Hill” or “Friends”, it is also more orchestral, yet still retains a definite force, fitting in very well with the original tracks. The stop-start chorus press of “2 Step” can be a little grating at times, but the slow verse hits the nail on the head. Finisher “Dark Nature Places” goes perhaps a few too many places, coming off as a bit muddled in its nature.
Now in preparation for their first full-length (reportedly to be recorded at The Arcade Fire’s church-renovated-into-a-studio), the European release of Applause Cheer Boo Hiss could have just been a throw-away, dropped in Europe now just so the full-length can be released on the same date on both sides of the Atlantic. But, just as how, when The Decembrists called things off at the last minute, Land of Talk didn’t merely pack up their bags and go home (instead finding a way to a handful of U.K. dates), so too didn’t they phone in this expanded edition. Instead, they added on nicely to an already impressive body.