Canadian all-star Bill Priddle breaks out on his own with his solo debut, The Priddle Concern. The former member of Toronto’s hit of the last decade, Treble Charger, and of this, Broken Social Scene, Priddle has been there and back again. While he doesn’t blow the listener away with standout tracks as The Priddle Concern, he creates an interesting atmosphere and effect. Priddle’s vocals can come off a little monotone, but his guitar work is first-rate.
As a co-founding member of Treble Charger, Priddle found success, including Canadian top-ten hits and Juno nominations. But in 2003, as Charger went from indie-rock to pop-punk, Priddle left to focus on his own work, first as part of Don Vail, and now as The Priddle Concern. Priddle also found time to drum in Toronto’s current all-star group, Broken Social Scene, until he broke his collarbone last year. However, numerous BSS bandmates did contribute to The Priddle Concern, including Brendan Canning on bass and Justin Peroff on drums. And the versatile Howie Beck (Hayden, Jason Collett) co-produced with Priddle.
The Priddle Concern starts off somewhat monochrome with “Union of Concerned Scientists”, as Priddle vocals tend towards the interesting lyrics, but geek-rock delivery, yet the track gets more colorful as it goes along. The following “Videotape” both has a high flow and a Casio reverb, making it an interesting mash-up. ‘Interesting’ is a word that comes up a lot with this record (and not in the ‘ancient Chinese curse’ sense…); Priddle rarely goes for the simple route when he can build a song into something more.
“Care About You” mixes up a relaxed feel with a haunting effect and garage/alt-country guitars. The alt-country is more laid-back on the following “I Had a Job”, but Priddle’s voice can come off a little pitchy. In general, his guitars are stronger than his pipes, like on the too preachy “Back Around”. Things get darker with the resonant “Believe What You Want To Believe” and bass procession-plus-high effects “Dive”. Meanwhile, the low-key “Beaten Down” worms its way into your ear with its echoes.
The airy atmosphere-meets-conversational beat “Faucet Dripping” doesn’t quite match up perfectly, but Priddle is at his best with the following “Make It Go Away”. More pressing than anything else on The Priddle Concern, “Go Away” is even encompassing at points. Unfortunately, the record doesn’t end on its strongest tracks, as the tech-echo “Everything’s Fine” is only that, fine, while finisher “Hold Me On Tight” is pretty but too sweet.
For a musician with such a distinguished legacy, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, on his solo debut, Bill Priddle never plays it straight up. While he can sometimes throw too much into the mix, and his vocals aren’t as strong as his guitar, The Priddle Concern holds up well throughout.