There is a melodic humidity to On Blonde, the new album from Canadian indie rockers Yukon Blonde, a sultry and almost sticky feel and ambience embracing and seducing the senses song by song. Already renowned for their seamlessly crafted and contagious pop songs, the Vancouver band went into experimentation mode for their latest endeavour, weaving in textures and sounds bred within psychedelic, digital, and synthetic adventure. It was a move bringing bolder and more fascinating character to music and release whilst breeding an even greater virulence for their maybe unexpectedly purest pop encounter yet.
It is easy to expect infectious proposals from a Yukon Blonde release but the quartet of Graham Jones, Jeffrey Innes, Brandon Scott, and James Younger have found a new epidemic of persuasion and catchiness despite venturing into the ‘unknown’ with On Blonde. Frontman Innes has said about the album, “We were more ambitious writing On Blonde so it’s sort of ironic that in experimenting we created a more accessible record than ever before.” Easy to slip into and embrace, the Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Dan Mangan, Sleepy Sun) produced, Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck, Foster the People, Air, Depeche Mode) mixed album simply backs up his words, starting straight away with opener Confused.
The first song instantly swamps ears with a buzzing electro tempting, the potent coaxing quickly joined by spicy guitar and crunchy rhythms. It is soon a stroll of magnetic melodic and vocal tenacity, eighties and spatial breezes a lively simmering within the vibrant body and energy of the song. Down below though there is an underlying rumble in the heart of the encounter, a stirring dark intent which gives real depth and intrigue to the refreshing pop romp. There is a bit of Weezer to the song, a bit of Super Happy Fun Club too, but it emerges as something distinct to Yukon Blonde just like Make U Mine which follows. Its body moves with a funky gait within a mellower more reserved energy, vocals and harmonies floating around ears as they forcibly flirt with the imagination alongside musical echoes of bands like Heaven 17 and Röyksopp.
Variety is a swift essence of On Blonde too, the first pair of tracks coming with individual characters but not as openly as the outstanding Como which follows them. Its acoustic lead soon lures the appetite into a summery canter of endearing melodies and vivacious vocals, all tempered by another great shadow wrapped bassline. A tinge of China Crisis teases throughout but equally a whisper of The Beach Boys floats with the tantalising harmonies as guitars dance with sparkling adventure and revelry within the hazy romance of a song.
I Wanna Be Your Man slips into a fuzzier and grittier landscape, one seemingly blossomed from a Bolan-esque seeding. It saunters around which attitude and confidence, every resonating bassy lure and sonic sizzle carrying a glint in their mischievous eye whilst unpredictable and tantalising twists and turns merge with the warm fluid flow of the bewitching proposition. In no time it has seduced and enslaved ears and emotions, an inescapable success and potency cultured just as powerfully by the similarly mouth-watering Saturday Night straight after. The song pounds ears with relentless rhythmic incitement around which eventful vocals and an elegant embrace of melodies rigorously serenade. Every second comes with a flirtation of sound and ideation but also that unpredictable essence which again as much as the fresh investigations of sound infused right across the album, is the spark to new adventure and ingenuity in the Yukon Blonde persuasion.
A sixties hued, folkish ballad in the shape of Hannah steps forward next; its harmonic charm an easy snare for ears. Once it has full focus it unveils bulbous bass tones and evocative drizzles of melodic expression to tighten its hold, though whilst again pushing the diversity of the album, it never manages to come up to the persuasive levels of its predecessors, something the admittedly enthralling Your Broke The Law also cannot quite emulate. In context though both songs are like a lover’s romance with the listener, never leaving them less than enamoured whilst allowing the likes of Starvation to steal more of the limelight which it does with consummate craft. Carrying a Depeche Mode/Daniel Miller like dark croon to its intoxicating enveloping of body and thoughts, the track swings and sways with irresistible and addictive ingenuity, never startling with its temptation but smouldering away for the same long-term effect.
From one triumph to another as the indie rock sculpted Favourite People bounces around with varied guitar jangles and contented bass grumbling within another rosy veil of keys. Just as the energetic musical creativity of the track, the vocals have an animated and frisky intent to their presence and enjoyment, and though once more it is a song which you can only really compare to Yukon Blonde themselves, there is a small urge to suggest the likes of XTC and Talk Talk as hints.
The release ends with the electro rock stomp of Jezebel, a sultry temptress of a song adding a final rich twist and spark in one masterful slab of aural gold. On Blonde is seriously compelling, a whole diverse summer in one spellbinding embrace. Yukon Blonde do not light a blazing fire in the belly and heart with the album but it is the hottest, spiciest warm glow felt from a release in a long time.
On Blonde is available now via Dine Alone Records / Caroline UK digitally and on CD/Vinyl through most online stores.
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