Those familiar with Canada, or Canadian music for that matter, should already know that Kingston, Ontario, just outside the country’s capital, is home to both the most arguably successful Canuck band, the Tragically Hip and the county’s largest penitentiary. The city houses both a thriving artistic community and societal throwaways. It isn’t the largest or most well-known city either, much like its most recent export, PS I Love You, who have crafted their debut Meet Me At The Muster Station with a level of frustration and alienation that only manifests itself in a place like Kingston.
The odd pairing of Paul Saulnier (guitar/vocals) and Benjamin Nelson (drums) comprise the ability to both scorn and encapsulate a listener. Their sound is rooted in ’80s college fuzz and Saulnier, much like those ’80s college rock heroes, displays a monumental amount of emotion. His softer side translates into something in the realm of Black Francis-esque singing – throaty and filled with occasional yelps. Their go-to track, “Facelove” can vouch for that honest display of emotion, as Saulnier sings what sounds like a love-letter gone wrong before breaking down into a jam session instead for the remaining half of the song. What Saulnier isn’t able to express lyrically, he leaves it for his guitar. The fret picking on “Butterflies and Boners” is a brilliant piece of axe-wielding, wailing like legendary guitar slayer J Mascis. I was lucky enough to catch the pair live and even their stage appearance is enjoyably off kilter. Nelson, a skinny, garage rock hipster-like figure plays second stage to the hefty Saulnier, who looks more like Tad or D. Boon.
PS I Love You’s songs are often very epic – the apocalyptic undertones of “2012” are both unsettling, yet intriguing while the rawness of “Get Over” oozes the overall theme of being passive aggressive and unable to adequately pinpoint where things went wrong. Saulnier seems shy and weary about letting us into his world, which is lucky for us, because he is a unique talent. While Nelson’s drumming is sometimes not the tightest, it is strong and the duo creates a sound much larger in comparison. Muster Station fuses teen angst and a lonely yearning with an untapped sense of male aggression and while PS I Love You might not be the toughest name on the block, don’t let that mislead you. They show a commitment to rock from track one.