Author: Lee Zimmerman
If ever there were moniker that accurately reflected a band's stance, The Rural Alberta Advantage would seem to fit the bill. As products of the great Canadian hinterlands, their songs reflect both the grandeur and expanse of their regional environs. Hometowns, their 2009 debut earned a torrent of critical kudos, foreseeing their rise into the indie elite. Departing, its title notwithstanding, furthers those initial gains by opting for an epic sweep that oscillates dramatically in both tone and texture. Without exception, these songs command attention from the get-go, an instant appeal embellished by the kinetic shuffle of "The Breakup," the effusive outflow of "Muscle Relaxants" and the pure, shimmering sparkle of "Coldest Days." Although the references aren't generally specific, the atmosphere and ambiance sets the songs apart. There and elsewhere, singer Nils Edenloff's emotive vocals soar on yearning and desire even as the band underscores his sentiments with its rich tempestuous undertow. Few bands carve such indelible imagery so early on, and even fewer are able to sustain it over the course of a career. Admittedly then, it may be premature to tout their triumphs at this stage in their trajectory, but there's no ignoring the indications that their best is yet to come.