Land of Talk’s Precise, Aggressive, Elegantly Crafted Songs of Distress


Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, introduced a Montreal trio who can do hard music with a thrilling compositional exactitude. The sound was unruly and sometimes smushed together, yet recalled precise aural architects of the past (Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine) who also superbly conveyed emotional distress. Some Are Lakes proves those associations no fluke. With 10 varied yet consistent songs, it introduces fully something the EP didn’t: the wide range of talents available to bandleader Elizabeth Powell, who writes and sings expertly about doubt, miserable days, cons, and death.

As with bassist Chris McCarron and drummer Andrew Barr, a rhythm section who contour and accent her music just right, every sentiment Powell expresses contributes to one continuous motion: the slanted rhythms and lovely choral backgrounds of “The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle),” the striking enervation of “Corner Phone,” the tricky melodicism of “Death by Fire,” even the rustic folk-rock structures of “Troubled” and the gripping title song. Like her game soprano, which breaks apart with the same lucid strength it sometimes uses to soar with trepidation, Land of Talk’s music unleashes its own aggressive logic. Powell is no mere singer-songwriter dressing herself up in rock-trio clichés: She really seems to think, feel, sleep, and reason in the language of rock ‘n’ roll. In “Got a Call,” she answers her phone in the middle of the night, triggering a considered string of lovelorn thoughts and sharply shaped guitar notes. For Land of Talk, a dial tone and a groove aren’t categorically different things.

Land of Talk play the Brooklyn Masonic Temple October 24 with Broken Social Scene