Toronto based blues/disco/punk five piece July Talk have returned with a follow-up to their critically acclaimed self titled debut record. The new album entitled “Touch” is a ten song masterpiece, meshing their bygone era songwriting style with synth and keyboard sounds, punk and blues influences, and a disco feel that makes this the most danceable rock album of 2016.
Released less than two weeks ago, the album continues to dominant rock radio with it’s singles Push + Pull, Strange Habit and Beck + Call, and continues to climb various Canadian music charts, as we all bare witness to a group on the verge of becoming Canada’s next big rock band.
Earlier this summer, I sat down with the band’s dynamic focal points, Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay at Ottawa’s annual Dragon Boat Festival to speak with them as both incredible musicians and enigmatic songwriters. I still cement that this is easily one of the most down to Earth rock groups I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with, and I will always remember that experience fondly, but instead of looking back I was already looking forward to the pending September release of a highly anticipated sophomore record. And while the band were at that time ecstatic over the early commercial success of disco-infused lead single Push + Pull, as a listener and fan, I was anxious to see if the band’s second attempt at putting a body of work together would hold the same luster to me that the blues driven debut did, and it definitely delivered.
Now to call it a perfect album would be unfair. A solid companion or successful follow-up seems more appropriate. I have to check my obvious bias at the door. There are definitely songs on this record that I prefer over others. Songs like Picturing Love exhibit that raw, guttural, Waitsy-ish sound that many hoped would not disappear as the band developed. Beck + Call is contagious and rambunctious, and is an obvious choice for rock radio. Strange Habit offers a very oddly eccentric and sexual vibe set to eerie minimalistic key tones. Lola + Joseph is easily one of favourites on the album, offering us a familiar story about chance intimate encounters with strangers. Simple lyrics and phrasing that offer distinct hooks like “Lola…I want to know ya,” “I don’t want to wait,” or “So cheer up,” make pieces of this album simple to immerse yourself in, often singing the words to songs before the first listen has finished.
Songs like Jesus Said So offer a glimpse at social commentary through the eyes of a band travelling the world. And the album’s title track Touch still resonates with me, marinating in my mind long after the album has finished.
The noticeable differences between this album and the one before it is that there seems to be a much richer collaborative sound on Touch. Leah’s incredible voice and personality shine through in a much more outstanding way. The keyboard and synth elements are much larger and more profound, while the sometimes rockabilly-esque sound that dominated the self-titled debut have been largely replaced with crunchy power chords and dancehall vibes.
Overall, I find this album hard to remove from my car stereo. This is a band that has their fingers on the pulse of the Canadian music industry. And it can only go up from here.
The band returns to our neck of the woods this October, with back to back Toronto performances on October 28th and 29th, followed by a return to Montreal at Club Soda and then a special Halloween show at the Algonquin Commons Theatre on October 31st. I will be at both the Montreal and Ottawa with my LPs and CDs in hand hoping for some signatures and catch-ups with my favourite Canadian band of misfits. I hope to see you there. And my advice to you….take this chance to see them at some of these smaller venues while you can because it won’t be long before they take over the world.
In the meantime, you’ll have to excuse me. I think it’s time for another tattoo in honour of my favourite songwriters.