Fredericton, New Brunswick-based Brookside Mall’s self-titled album is a bombastic, enthusiastic collection. These fellas seem ready to raise the rafters of your hometown arena. Dreamy synths meet howling vocals. I loved this album immediately and my enthusiasm has grown with every new listen.
Each member of the group excels at their instrument. The drums are not only great to dance to but, the beats are varied and original. The bass does more than keep time, it is used as a lead instrument and the melodies are beautiful. When bass isn’t playing the leads, keyboards take the reigns with exhilarating fills. All this rousing would be wasted if the vocals and lyrics weren’t top notch.
Thankfully, the entire lyrics are available on their Bandcamp page… because they’re great. Each song has at least a couple relatable, contemplative and poignant lines. These guys have lived some, loved some, lost some and opened their hearts to share their experiences. Maybe the words are completely made up. It’s possible. But, I don’t think they are and it wouldn’t change their effectiveness.
The first song “Twenty Thirteen” smacks you in the face with its booming chant, drums and fuzz. However, I was even more struck by its referential, romanticized and reminiscent lyrics. “I miss The Weakerthans / and spending summers with my friends.”
At just over 22 minutes, Brookside mall utilized every second of the 8 songs and there isn’t a superfluous tune in the bunch.
Track three, “Canis Major,” is probably my favorite track on the album. I’m not sure if it’s title is from the name of the canine laid to rest in the song (and possible cover star) or the constellation of stars where the beloved pet may now reside. Unlike a wake, this song is a celebration of life. Treasure the times you had, instead of ruminating on the times you can’t have.
It takes great confidence to attempt and execute a great spoken word piece like the swansong “One Day I Returned.” Here, the booming intensity heard on the first 7 songs is brushed aside for a rich and melodious reverie evoking the sense of somber nostalgia when returning to a place once frequented and appreciated but now replaced with something else.
Their use of live drums instead of programmed percussion immediately quells easy comparisons to dance/rock bands like LCD Soundsystem. Brookside Mall have fused dancy-post-punk and pop-rock in a way I haven’t heard since… I dunno.. Bloc Party’s 2003 Silent Alarm. One of my favorite and a widely acclaimed album from the 00’s.
The album is available on the Bandcamp page in digital form only. Get it now. Listen to it while travelling somewhere, anywhere; on a trip, walking around or riding the bus to work… and thank me later.