Under Review



Alarum / Big Smoke; 15/04/2016

There is something to be said about the simple satisfaction of a good garage‐rock album. Sightlines have been delivering upbeat, unhinged lo‐fi goodness for the past few years, but oddly enough, have managed to put out every form of tangible music except a full‐length album — until now. From 7 inches to floppy discs, they’ve experimented with it all. Now, with their first LP, “North,” they’ve gone ahead and stacked it full of pop‐punk excellence.

“North” feels highly personal, despite its upbeat energy and enlivening tempo. Its pleasant quirkiness is attached to tales of nights spent gagging over hospital food, and even touches on rape‐culture. That whole, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” comes to mind when an artist combines politics with catchy melodies.

“The Idea of North,” the opening track grinds out quickly and sets the pace nicely for what’s to come. It’s a classic pairing of distorted guitars layered sweetly with vulnerable lyrics. Speaking with Eric Axen (vocalist/guitarist), he explains the album’s title as influenced influenced by his upbringing in Northern B.C.. “The Idea of North” is less about the North as a physical space, but emotional ties to an old home.

Axen isn’t shy about indulging listeners with intimate parts of his life experiences. “Hospital,” about Axen’s stint in a hospital bed sick with blood poisoning, conveys a heartwarming story of his experiences with bad food and the company of one visitor. It’s simple, but Axen’s gentle voice singing “that’s when I knew that you really loved me” is undeniably touching.

Little‐minute moments of Vancouver life are scattered throughout the album. It’s a nice touch to please local music fans. “Commiseration” begins with the drawl of the skytrain lady’s voice flatly announcing the approaching platform, and one can’t help but smirk at the reference to a lot of our daily routines.

The album then swiftly shirts to a heavier topic, one not many male musicians seem to address. “Perfect Survivor” is perfectly bold and blatant. It’s a homage to women who have been accused of falsely accusing their abusers, and the stigma behind being a victim. The tone of the song becomes heavy and the distortion escalates, and the album plateaus.

“North” is testament to Sightlines ability to continual deliverance of power‐pop, punk goodness. Both hook‐laden and accessible, it’s only ever so slightly rough around the edges. The perfect album to kickstart your summer.