Released back home earlier this year, Canadian band Your Favorite Enemies give their European unleashing to their album Between Illness And Migration this month, an encounter sure to wake up keen attention over this side of the globe for them and their highly flavoursome sound. Made up of ten tracks which capture the imagination as easily as the ears, the album is a potential fuelled and adventurous proposition, a constant fascination which does not quite set the blaze that maybe its invention and diverse presence deserves. There is a sense of familiarity coating every track and twist within an otherwise dramatic presence which seemingly prevents any real surprises breaking through, but nevertheless Between Illness And Migration leaves ears satisfied and appetite ready for more.
Formed in 2006, the Montreal band is no stranger to taking their striking fusion of shoegaze, post punk, and alternative rock into new pastures, Your Favorite Enemies having played shows across Europe, Japan, China, Indonesia, and of course Canada. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Drive Like Jehu, and Fugazi, the sextet drew strong attention with debut album Love Is a Promise Whispering Goodbye in 2008, its success following the potent base set by previous and first EP And If I Was to Die in the Morning… Would I Still Be Sleeping with You the year before. After a deluxe version of their album, second full-length Vague Souvenir helped expand their presence in 2012 before last year the band released the vinyl album Sacred Kind Of Whispers and the Youthful Dreams of an Old Empire EP to keen responses and recognition. Between Illness And Migration also began its flirtation with the world in 2013, Australian and Japanese versions being unveiled before this year Canada, alongside the Entre Marées Et Autres Ressacs EP, and now Europe received their versions.
Released via Graphite Records, Between Illness And Migration opens with the imagination sparking instrumental Satsuki Yami. Sonically fiery and emotionally agitated, the track is an intro into the album giving no real hint in hindsight of things to come but awakening senses and thoughts successfully for the following temptation of Empire Of Sorrows. Initially a lonely guitar bred melody melancholically strokes ears, its coaxing joined by the just as lamenting spoken tones of vocalist Alex Foster. Building around that single sonic lure, the guitars of Jeff Beaulieu and Sef begin shaping a dramatic web to which rhythms align their brewing intensity and the keys of Miss Isabel offer their initially subdued hues. Once inflamed the song is a stirring cauldron of cold post punk enterprise and provocation, the bass of Ben Lemelin a groaning treat and the beats of drummer Charles Allicy a reined yet rampant incitement. Evolving through gentle and haunted scenery to roaring blazes, there is a refreshing sense of bands like Wire, Modern English, and Flesh for Lulu to the encounter which intrigues as its tantalises the imagination and passions.
It is a mighty start to the album which A View From Within backs up with its whipping sonic web and slightly portentous air. The acidic and scorched start to the song reminds of Bauhaus but is soon merging into new terrain as keys toy with synth rock enterprise and vocals from Foster and Miss Isabel entwine with spicy variety. As the first track you feel you know or can predict the turns and shifts the song takes but even without that element of surprise, it lights ears and appetite with a flavoursome drama soaked adventure, as does its successor Where Did We Lose Each Other. The first rub of guitar sets the juices flowing which the subsequent rhythmic shuffle and keen hooks only accentuate before a brief relaxation to draw in the vocals slightly dulls the weighty persuasion. From this point the song ebbs and flows, flying high with its vocal and melodic roars and dipping slightly in its less intensively emotive turns. The enterprise of the guitars and the delicious toxicity of the grooves and increasingly barbed hooks ensure the song wins the day though and provides moments of lingering success.
Underneath A Stretching Skyline keeps things bubbling potently, the raw energy and gnarly voice of bass and riffs an inescapable enticement within the just as magnetic sonic winds cast by guitars and keys. Its time is shared with elegant and gentle melodic reflections matched by the vocals; both characters within the song courting each other’s strengths to provide a fascinating drama of sound and lyrical narration. The song epitomises the album in many ways, its presence an engrossing and easily accessible canvas of craft and invention which impressively and enjoyably smoulders rather than ignites a fire with its offering. The same applies to next up From The City To The Ocean, its resonating body and gripping endeavour a lively simmer more than a furnace for the emotions but a treat for ears all the same. With repetition driving much of the vocals and spoken vocals also a full part to the unfolding picture, as across most songs, it takes more time than some to fully convince but subsequently finds the same level of pleasure.
The deviously addictive bassline within I Just Want You To Know soon has ears trapped in the evocative hazy landscape immersing the senses, the song as tenacious in its emotion as it is in sonic temptation, whilst 1-2-3 (One Step Away) is a climatic build of rugged rhythms and punk antagonism within a melody fired creative sprawl of invention and diversity. The pair grips ears and thoughts with their impassioned suasions, the second of the two especially incendiary as it pulls the album back to the impressive levels it started with.
Between Illness And Migration is completed by the sonic maelstroms of firstly Obsession Is A Gun, its pungent drama bewitching, and finally Muets Aux Temps Des Amours, a noir lit enchantment which croons with anguish and slowly burning but ultimately rich temptation. The closer shows more of the strengths of Fosters striking vocals and those of Miss Isabel but also the one personal niggle about the album. That is the want to use spoken vocals throughout the majority of tracks, some more strongly than others. It is an idea which works a treat for the main but by the last songs it finally feels overdone, its variety and success becoming formula. As mentioned it is just something which laboured for us and will be fine for others, and it definitely does not make for a major issue.
Your Favorite Enemies with Between Illness And Migration show themselves to be an adventurous and bold band, their release impossible to ignore or stay away from as it impresses more with every listen. Their oncoming evolution is one to anticipate and enjoy it is easy to suggest, starting with this great release, and once they find real distinction to their sound that missing blaze just might be running amok.
Between Illness And Migration is available now via Graphite Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/id920852948
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