Toying with traditional song structures has always been post-rock’s chief calling card. Vancouver band Shapes and Sizes fuck shit up very subtly, creating their quiet riots by blurring the boundaries of verse-chorus-verse…repeat! The group’s third album, Candle to Your Eyes, is not an immediate record, but an intriguing one rife with understated guitar-based R&B. Beneath its shifting tempos and changing time signatures is a quietly assertive album that never really busts, but is better for it.
Candle to Your Eyes is best heard as a whole to fully understand what these Canucks are about. “Sing Them Songs” makes use of singer Rory Seydel’s repetition, before erupting into an unexpectedly joyous cabaret-style sing along romp that wouldn’t sound out of place at a poison Kool Aid taste-test. “You Don’t Have to Drink from Here” slinks around like a sparkly spy-thriller soundtrack. The album’s middle section makes the most effective use of their spacious dynamics. “Too Late for Dancing” splatters staccato guitar over crisp high hats, balancing lead singer Caila Thompson-Hannant’s lyrical lamentations with darker outbursts.
The quartet expands to include dub and African rhythms on the album’s final two songs. “Imagine you’re a pompous prick/ imagine you’re a saint from the hill,” Hannant sings on the “The Hit Parade,” the album’s best track, and the finest example of Shapes and Sizes letting their songs breathe and build, adding and subtracting murder-ballad style guitar in flashes to create a lonely, despondent sound.
Shapes and Sizes change directions throughout with the easy aplomb of paid politicians. Aside from Hannant’s bout of blue-eyed soulful gushing on finale “Old Worlds,” the band’s greatest strength is that it avoids grand gestures, finding inspiration in modest palettes. Candle to Your Eyes is a refined, inventive wonder that will be adored by anybody with the patient willingness to be rocked gently out of sync.
Sea and Cake – Oui
Blonde Redhead – Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
Impossible Shapes – Bless the Headless