Montreal trio Land of Talk, spearheaded by vocalist and songwriter Elizabeth Powell, have released their sophomore full-length album, Cloak and Cipher. Joining Powell on the album are Eoin O Laoghaire (bass) and Andrew Barr (drums) and special guests drawn from the Montreal music scene and beyond including Patrick Watson as well as members of Stars, Silver Mount Zion Band, Wintersleep, Besnard Lakes, Arcade Fire and Esmerine.
The follow up to 2008's critically adored debut LP Some Are Lakes, Cloak and Cipher's ten tracks mark an electric step forward for the band musically and sonically, establishing Land of Talk as one of Canada's most exciting new musical voices. Recorded in Montreal's Breakglass Studios in the Fall of 2009 with producer Jace Lasek (Besnard Lakes, Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown), the return to the studio was a homecoming of sorts after nearly two years of life on the road that was punctuated by the release of 2009's Fun and Laughter EP. Following the release of Some Are Lakes, Land of Talk joined Broken Social Scene on a North American tour where in addition to opening the show, Powell joined the collective on stage nightly and left critics taking note, including the New York Times raving in their live review, "[Powell] proved herself a strong guitarist and a calmly arresting lead singer... She made a virtue of directness and brevity, letting small details speak for themselves." While the buzz around Some Are Lakes was steadily growing, these staggering live sets brought attention to Powell's stand-out voice and undeniable presence as a front-woman to watch.
With the release of Cloak and Cipher, it's clear that Powell and company took the power of these live shows and focused them into a more complex, textured and sophisticated musical composition. This record is the document of Powell's past and future, cleaved together. In those teenage years, an analog child, her recordings were strictly to 4-track tape. Cloak and Cipher's songs were roughed out in the digital Garageband software, a first for Powell. It afforded her the space to return to her old process - isolated, quiet, layered construction. Realized in the studio, these songs became vast yet intricate: expansive arrangements anchored by taut instrumentation. The lyrics are borrowed newspaper headlines, veiled confessions, and passages from books, annihilated and morphed into song. Tracks like "Hamburg, Noon" swing tensely between acrobatic vocals and rumbling guitars while "Swift Coin" roars to the fore like an eviscerating siren; exploding into a rollicking and joyous guitar anthem. The halfway point, "The Hate I Won't Commit," featuring a piano solo from Patrick Watson, weaves between abrasive and gentle, expanding through choral backing vocals and distressed, emotive pleas from Powell. "Quarry Hymns" is the sweetest and saddest Land of Talk you will hear, insistently driven by Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara on drums. The record concludes with the dreamy and ethereal "Better and Closer" gently rocking you asunder.
CD / LP / MP3
MP3 / 7"
CD / MP3