Sunday, October 28, 2007
...And They All Look Just The Same
As a young child I observed the dichotomy of suburban and rural geography, the expanding borders of southern Ontario cities that were gradually encroaching on the surrounding farmland. From my first bedroom window I had a completely unobstructed view of Canada's busiest highway, the 401, lying about a kilometer from my home. The house itself, though a semi-detached unit, looked something like one of the miniatures on the cover of Population. As I grew, the vacant fields that guided my view of the highway began to see mass residential expansion, which plotted home after home of similar design all the way from my house to the expressway in the distance. Soon enough all I could see were homes, unique as they could be with buyer's choice of shingle, brick, and garage door colour. In such environments, it's almost as if the situation begs for something to stand out and distance itself from the pack.
I grew up in the northwest corner of Mississauga. The Most Serene Republic's hometown of Milton, On, is just a few exits down the 401. The landscape transformation I observed way back then is still taking place, churning out development after development that's slowly suffocating the remaining space between our neighboring towns. This happens in lots of municipalities, but knowing that The Most Serene Republic have viewed the same particular transformation that I have has given me a more personal motivation to think hard about the title and meaning of the band's latest album (which by the way, is excellent). Population (Arts & Crafts) deals with many subjects, including the fear of uniform monotony, using multi-layered, challenging songwriting the band is known for. Each song gives the same impression as a custom-built home jutting out of a carbon copy grid. They seek to cement a strong identity with ambitious music in a community filled with acts that too often hedge their bets, minimize risk, and stay safe. There aren't enough good things I can say about the album, just check it out and judge for yourself.
They're heading west touring Population right now with Dragonette, Mother Mother, and Small Sins (on some stops). Work got in the way of attending last night's Ottawa show at Zaphod's but my hope is that the album's popularity warrants another cross country tour in the new year.
The Most Serene Republic - Present of Future End [YSI]
The Most Serene Republic - Why So Looking Back [YSI]