Band: English Words
Album: Red Potion
Written by: Chiara DiAngelo
From Charlottetown, PEI, English Words are brothers Ryan Crane (vocals), and Aaron Crane (synths, sampler, drum machine), plus Andrew Murray (guitar), Thayne Campbell (bass), and Todd MacLean (synths). Formerly known as Smothered in Hugs, Red Potion is the band’s debut album under their new moniker and was produced by Holy Fuck’s bassist Matt McQuaid. Drawing inspiration from 80’s new wave, the album smothers you in a sonic embrace of bombastic heavy synths. It’s the exact music I’ve been craving since finishing Jian Ghomeshi’s book 1982. Rather than having too much of a “throwback” feel to it however, the album takes on an almost futuristic tone, layered in spacey, fuzzy distortion. Using a drum machine rather than actual drums, the album is definitely more on the electronic-sounding side – a much different direction than the indie pop-rock stylings of Smothered in Hugs.
The drum beats on standout tracks “People I Love” and “All My Lovers” induce memories of dancing sizzling summer nights away – either in the intoxicating humidity of a crowded club or on a beach in the light of a crackling bonfire – surrounded by your favourite people in the world. While “Takeover Panther,” veiled in an extra layer of darkness, is the band’s furthest foray into psychedelia, they then slow it down on next song “Pay to Play,” adding a poppy infusion of gentle tinkling keys. One of my favourite lines on the album comes in “Go To Bed”: “bad boys, bad boys, what you going to do / five years in a band, nothing to lose,” before the album closes on a brief instrumental track named simply “Untitled.”
There must be something in the East Coast water, as the area seems to be cranking out some of my favourite synth bands as per lately – A.A. Wallace, Writers’ Strike and now English Words (to name a few). Red Potion was released last month and can be picked up on Bandcamp. The band is at The Rivoli on Friday October 26 with Always (Molly Rankin) and Boxer the Horse – it’ll be a great way to sweat out the ills of the work week!