Halifax, Nova Scotia: not the most exciting region of the world. Beautiful yes, but not famed for a lively atmosphere. This is probably a terrible assumption to make about the region, but I’m not saying this in a bad way. In fact, I feel that the nature of the region has had a direct hand in shaping one of this year’s best Canadian releases.
Heaven For Real is led by twins Mark and Scott Grundy, whose voices and guitars melt together so naturally on Kill Your Memory, it’s hard not to imagine them fine-tuning this unspoken musical understanding for years. The album has an introspective sound, one that is unified with a natural swing, deep-rooted in jazz. The sound, to me, seems to be indebted to getting lost in your private musical bubble and not being influenced by ever-changing music trends. Playing in Halifax’s smaller, more condensed scene would remove the urge to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak, and obviously made it possible for Heaven For Real to produce their simply wonderful debut.
I would describe the album as post-punk at its most tender. Taking influences from math-rock, but focused on perfecting a song over countless jam sessions. See the jumping chord progression that blends effortlessly into walking scales, on the title track, for a prime example. Or try soaking in the delicate and soothing “Allan,” which is one of the stand out tracks. It blends a spoken vocal over a simple acoustic guitar line, creating something so relaxing it’s therapeutic.
Along with the music, the lyrics are shrouded in mystery and poetic license that makes the album even more of an engrossing listen. The lamenting wallow of “Kill Your Memory” features a beautiful knife in the back: “Hello high school lover flame / Bad news there’s nothing there / Here’s an ancient photograph / You signed it when you didn’t care.” Whilst “Oasis Melting” features the metaphor “But when you stand through me, I’m beside myself,” expressing a feeling of desperation I’ve never heard expressed so succinctly. Even the more direct bite of “I’m sick of being sorry / It’s always such a boring thing to be” on “I’m sick,” pinpoints a specific sense of dissatisfaction that relationships are littered with.
None of the words are in your face, the album as a whole is not like that. But after a few listens they worm their way into your consciousness to leave you intrigued and wanting nothing more than to find a quiet place to don your headphones, return, and lose yourself in Kill Your Memory.
In short, Heaven For Real have produced a record that will certainly be one of the best of 2016.