Under Review

I witnessed Apollo Ghosts perform for the first time in mid-July. I hadn’t heard of them previously but within the first minutes of their set I was enthralled with the yearning, emotional energy they let fall from each chord and lyric. Something so full of love and loss permeated into the crowd during their song “To Set The King Bloom.” A deep sense of mourning and indifference woven into the starting lyrics of “Mother Theresa is dead, her mother Theresa is dead.” Laid in between soft ethereal guitar and a constant sea of changing vocal melodies, it made for an almost religious experience.

Pink Tiger, released on March 11th, 2022, is a 22 track album that combines elements of folk, indie, and jangle pop. Initially I was a bit threatened by the length of the album, expecting a few filler songs and out of place instrumental tracks. However, I was blown away by how skillfully pieced together it was.

The first half of the album is soft and raw. “Pink Tiger, the opening track, sets a tone of hopefulness and almost gratitude towards heartache and loss. Heavy themes of healing, platonic love, and maturity are sprinkled in all the tracks. Although, it is the imagery within the lyrics of these eleven tracks that drew me in. Songs such as “Rookery,” “Morning Voice” and “Surfer’s Ear” contain beautifully vivid depictions of the West Coast, from tide pools to oysters, which purvey feelings of soft rain on wet sand. The instrumental and harmonies add such a depth and tangibility to the poetry laced within the songs. The feathery melodies and delicate harmonies in a few of the tracks are reminiscent of the solo works of Adrienne Lenker. Deeply personal yet mundane lyrics create a strange sort of mysticism within songs like “Melatonin 5G” and “To Set The King Bloom.”

The following half of the album beautifully juxtaposes the beginning. The contrast between “Surfer’s ear” and “Spilling Yr Guts” feels celebratory. From then on the tone shifts, the songs become the feeling of moving on. Upbeat tempos and funky guitars mix perfectly, creating a euphoric indie/surf rock melange. “Pink Boys,” “Gentlemen Go to Heaven,” and “Island Kids” encapsulate a very warm, summery feeling with wavy guitar and mellow harmonies. This part of the album is the rush of energy that comes after being vulnerable.

This album is perfect for easy listening, whether you choose to shuffle or listen from beginning to end. The tracks are perfect for rainy mornings, sunny afternoons, or evenings with those you hold dear. Apollo Ghosts’ Pink Tiger is reminiscent of artists like Big Thief, City and Colour, and Courtney Barnett.

Pink Tiger is amongst my favourite albums to be put out by Vancouver artists this year. I’d recommend it to all, for the days you feel hopeful.

Anchoress (ˈæŋ kər ɪs)
noun
1. A punk band formed in 2010, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
(so reads the definition on their official website)

I have known of Vancouver’s “post-punk heroes” Anchoress for a few years now, thanks to a couple hardcore tracks that I’ve found delicously sinister — “She-Devil” and “Grease Fire,” both lifted off 2013’s Set Sail LP. The (newly) five piece ensemble released their latest and fourth album, Stay Positive, on March 25, 2022 through Early Onset Records. 

The nine song collection begins with the instrumental title track “Stay Positive.” The uneventful opener comes in at 1:09 and essentially serves as a precursor for the next offering, the robust and jittery “Anxious Hum.”. Musically, intermingling guitar work between Keenan Federico and Phil Jones is most notable, and lyrically “Anxious Hum” sets the album’s distorted tone — “It took me a long time / But I’m figuring out why / My success always feels like a crime”

The blistering “Peace Lines” goes for it at full sonic tilt, for a fleeting moment featuring a guitar run reminiscent of Tony Iommi of the legendary Black Sabbath. The ambitious “Middle Management at the Money Factory” is a mild departure, but still pure Anchoress fare. The fifth cut, the dreamy, slightly slower paced “An Old Wolf” breaks things up a tad until we kick it into a familiar high gear at about the midway mark of the song. We progress with the instrumental “Canadian Pastoral,” a dramatic droner with a hint of reflective piano that gives us distance and prepares us for the aggression that awaits. The catchy “Hydrodynamic” returns to the more familiar Anchoress sound, and is easily the sleeper college radio chart topper. The second to last song, “Psychobabble,” is the obligatory deep cut of heaviness (my interest is briefly piqued by a guitar part reminiscent of the late B52’s Ricky Wilson). As the ruckus persists, we transcend into the epic final track “The Futurist.” Stretched out to 7:35, “The Futurist” features a more subdued vocal approach that gives the track a hidden layer — the essence of the group still reverberates but with a thicker, more melodic angle. The entire album leads us to this desperate moment and final cut — it fails to disappoint.

Lyrically the record is charcoal grey — “Change will come / Like it always does/ The future will arrive / No matter how hard you fight / You’re trying to hold back the dawn / Because you profit off the night.” Ultimately the theme is timely — set against the backdrop of the world pandemic, the loss, the suffering, and the alienation of these opaque clouds remain clear. And If your brave new post-pandemic world appears a little too obscured and gloomy, heed Anchoress’ primary message: Stay Positive and remember…

“It’s okay to ask for help / When your sun doesn’t shine”