Early the morning I awoke to review the self-titled sophomoric release from Vancouver’s The Book of Lists, I dreamt I was driving in a car with my family (a boisterous seven piece ensemble, if you will) from one small Canadian town to another. My parents bickered in the front seat, and I tried frantically to reorganize a mountain of coloured markers my younger siblings had littered about the vehicle, spread across the floor of the back seat like an impossible game of Pick-Up Sticks. Try as I might, I could not keep the pieces of the dream—the trip, the car, my family—assembled in any meaningful or lasting fashion.
At times, the same could be said of this release, which, despite a clear agenda to balance a solidly Brit-pop sound with long-drawn moments of inspired psychedelic rock, departs after a first spin with little left lingering behind. Only fragments from tracks like “Lost Weekend,” and “Eating Silver” remain, both of which illustrate the highly imaginative stylings of Trevor Lee Larson’s layered guitar riffs, which throughout the album compete with Chris Fey’s quirky vocal strains for musical superiority.
Fey and Larson likely earned The Book of Lists much of the praise they won for their debut release, Red Arrows, an album that moved UK label 1965 to put out the Pacifist Revolt 7”. On their self-titled release, however, and especially on sure-footed tracks like “Journey East,” bassist Laura Piasta and Brady Cranfield on drums prove the winning duo. Together the two lend staying power to a sound that sometimes deliberates too heavily on fleeting melodies. Their solid back-up of the album keeps the musical hooks that never quite bite from leaving the listener completely hanging. A self-titled album always offers to be the most of, if not the best of, the band for which it has been named. The Book of Lists, though, never quite fulfill their vision on this recording, although from what I can piece together, their live show must be well worth seeing.