Local popsters The Feminists are a “21st century rock band,” and accordingly, the sleeve of their third album, Can’t Scream Loud Enough, sports a transparent neon ferris wheel of sorts, and—with clever irony—the track list (for this compact disc) is split into a decidedly un-futuristic Side One and Side Two. While there are throwbacks to early Elvis Costello, it sounds more like the work of recent power pop bands like Built to Spill and fellow Vancouverites The New Pornographers, only less guitar-oriented and more about the organ and piano. Yet despite their anxious pace, most of the tunes soldier far beyond the three-minute template that you might expect.
Futuristic, yes, but it’s also very ambitious, and promising songs such as “The Beginning of the World” and “How to Kill A Country” wear thin quickly, as the repetition (and stifling hi-fi production) renders loveable melodies plastic and tedious. Quieter, more concise nuggets stand out: “Goodnight, Irene” starts as a McCartney-esque piano number and becomes a heartwarming brew of gospel harmonies and mellow country. Frontman Keith Grief catches a bobbing head off guard with his scathing commentary. “No One Gets Out Of This World Alive” displays a knack for balancing catchy music with bitter nihilism: the key lyric, “Everyone is all the same,” becomes a sinister chant, without alienating all of that bright pop underneath. It is this kind of edge, found all over the record, that lends Can’t Scream Loud Enough a poetic third dimension.