The concept behind Think About Life is pretty simple: take fairly straightforward, danceable indie pop, bury it in layers of distorted organ, canned beats a la Suicide, with the addition of real beats, and have four guys shout unintelligible verses on top of it all. That formula is augmented as the band sees fit, but you get the gist. Even if it is a simple concept, however, it’s an effective one. When they want you to dance, you dance. When they want you to rock, you rock. What they do most of all, however, is go crazy.
Having toured with Montreal neighbors Wolf Parade, Think About Life does occasionally share quite a bit of that band’s sonic traits. Opener “Paul Cries,” as one of the most straightforward tracks, sounds like a dirtied-up outtake from Apologies to the Queen Mary. And for that reason, it’s quite awesome. Likewise, “Bastian and the Boar” is a similarly peppy rock track with its fair share of quirky video game keyboards and a catchy-as-hell melody. From there, however, accessibility comes and goes like the tide, with some truly bizarre creatures washing ashore in the meantime. Track three, “Commander Riker’s Party,” is mostly shouting, and “Fireworks” deals in start-stop dynamics, strange time signatures and, as can be expected, lots and lots of distortion.
The odd waltz of “Money” actually sounds more like Wolf Parade member Spencer Krug’s other project, Sunset Rubdown, with a little bit of prog rock keyboard eccentricity as well. The psychedelic haze of “In Her Hands” recalls early Sonic Youth, mixed with those quirky keyboards, of course, and Chloe Lum’s moaned vocals taking on a Kim Gordon-meets-Karen O howl. While “Paul Cries” rocks in its own right, the other anthem to watch here is the disco no wave of “Serious Chords,” which should get a crowd moving quite easily with its steady beat and, um, serious chords. Guest rapper Subtitle makes an appearance on “What the Future Might Be,” though it works a lot better than his guest spot on Islands’ “Where There’s a Will There’s a Whalebone,” merely because he fits the rhythm of the song, as opposed to sounding as if a separate part was squished into the middle of an existing, otherwise fine track.
Like Suicide with a real drummer and four singers, Think About Life is fuzzy, unsettling and, at times, a lot of fun. I can’t help but think the addition of some bass would help fill out their sound a bit, but there’s so much going on, it might just get lost. Instead, Think About Life makes due with an arsenal of keyboards, all of them loud, most of them distorted, and a few of them quite bizarre. A debut with so much explosiveness in sound may suggest that TAL isn’t entirely crazy, but they’re not entirely sane, either.
Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary
Suicide – Suicide
Six Finger Satellite – Paranormalized
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.