released August 24th, 2010
from the album - Blangee Blee
from all music
Land of Talk feature Elizabeth Powell (vocals/guitar), a former punk who got her start playing her own anti-folk anthems on the local scene of Guelph, Ontario, during her mid-teens. Upon her college years, with stints playing with the Aaron Riches Nuclear Family Band and the Valentines behind her, Powell set her sights on a solo career in the late '90s. While gigging in and around Ontario and Quebec, she met bassist Blake Markle and his friend, drummer Bucky Wheaton, with whom she formed Land of Talk in 2005. By the time recorded its 2006 debut album Applause Cheer Boo Hiss — which bore influences such as PJ Harvey, Dinosaur Jr., and Sonic Youth — Tim Kramer had taken over bass duties. More lineup changes followed in 2007, with Kramer and Wheaton leaving Land of Talk and bassist Chris McCarron and drummer Eric Thibodeau joining. The band landed on Saddle Creek for its second-full length, 2008's Some Are Lakes, which showed off a more eclectic, melodic approach and production by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. For Land of Talk's 2010 album Cloak and Cipher, Powell — who wrote the album's songs while recuperating from a problem with her vocal cords — was joined by two new bandmates, bassist Joseph Yarmush and drummer Andrew Barr, as well as members of Stars, Arcade Fire and the Besnard Lakes.
Land of Talk takes another step away from its raw roots with Cloak and Cipher, with songs and vocals that are downright lush and lavish. Singer/guitarist Elizabeth Powell is joined not only by a new rhythm section, bassist Joseph Yarmush and drummer Andrew Barr, but a host of friends that just happen to be Canadian indie-rock luminaries. The Besnard Lakes' Jace Lasek contributes an ornate string arrangement to “Goal Time Exposure,” while Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara drums on the expansive “Quarry Hymns.” With an all-star cast like this, it’s not surprising that Cloak and Cipher is beautifully played and layered. However, too often it feels like the album’s overall sound comes at the price of distinctive songs; “Cloak and Cipher” and “Better and Closer” have every note in place and are never less than pretty, but they’re so soft and smooth that they don’t really stick. While these songs are a little too hazy for their own good, they surround a nucleus of tracks where everything clicks. “Swift Coin” and “Color Me Badd” bring much-needed urgency to Cloak and Cipher, while the jazzy, Metric-like “Hamburg, Noon” and “Blangee Blee” show just how well Land of Talk balance delicacy and rock power when they’re firing on all cylinders. “The Hate I Won’t Commit,” with its guitar onslaughts and sudden stops and starts, proves that Powell and company can still surprise. Though Powell’s voice borders on ethereal and she’s got a flair for gorgeous melodies (especially on “Playita”), she and the rest of Land of Talk make more of an impact when they’ve got an edge, something that Cloak and Cipher unfortunately tends to hide.
1 Cloak and Cipher Powell 3:47
2 Goaltime Exposure Powell 5:42
3 Quarry Hymns Powell 5:46
4 Swift Coin Powell 4:50
5 Color Me Badd Powell 3:59
6 The Hate I Won't Commit Powell 5:01
7 Hamburg, Noon Powell 3:33
8 Blangee Blee Powell 4:08
9 Playita Powell 5:56
10 Better and Closer Powell 6:14