2017, Music

Choir of the Mind (2017) by Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton

I am not a fan of Metric. I tried to listen to them when everyone in Canada was getting excited about them and they did nothing for me. I’m glad to say this doesn’t sound like my memories of Metric too often.

One reason I didn’t like Metric at the time was I didn’t like Haines’ songs. Maybe I’ve mellowed somewhat, maybe my tastes have changed, maybe Haines has improved, who knows? I don’t necessarily feel the same way now. I think this set of songs is fine. I won’t necessarily have any in my head later but I do think that the songs are decent.

The thing I like about this more than metric is that it mostly connects with me instrumentally in a way that metric often did not. I think the piano is incredibly underused in popular music, or at least it used to be. (I have no idea how many piano-playing singers there are now, as there have been a few pretty big piano-based hits over the last couple of decades.) I am a sucker for the piano and I think the piano plus other instruments has been underused ever since keyboards with built-in synthesizers came about.

I think I like Haines’ voice less than I used to. It’s not that I liked it before, but it wasn’t a reason why I didn’t like Metric. But now I don’t love it. It’s kind of thin at times. I get that’s how she sounds and for some people maybe that’s the appeal, but her voice isn’t my favourite. She often sounds quite young.

I don’t have strong feelings about her lyrics. I used to, apparently, but now I don’t. Again I wonder if this is just me softening my opinions. I used to get extremely annoyed about, say, non sequiturs, unless the song was full of them. What’s more likely is that when I like music I tend to not pay too much attention to the lyrics until I listen to the song many times, whereas if I don’t like the underlying music I may get mad at the lyrics.

I like many of the little additions she adds to some of the songs that give the album some moderate stylistic variety. I don’t love all of them – I’m not big on vocal effects in general and especially when there’s not much else going on in the song. But in general I think the album benefits from the contrasting arrangements instead of being harmed by them.

This is perfectly fine and I like it more than Metric, though it has been just ages since I listened to Metric (for obvious reasons).


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