Memoryhouse - The Years
Record Label: Sub Pop Records
Release Date: September 13th, 2011
Having originally been self-released within the Canadian winter of the previous year, the atmospheric debut EP The Years from Ontario based quartet Memoryhouse has certainly had adequate time to garner plenty of ears and a cascading wave of attention. However, a sizable amount has changed since its initial release; Memoryhouse now find themselves deservedly signed to the wonderful and equally talented roster that Sub Pop has been gradually assembling, a debut full-length is in the works and is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of the new year, and with such tremendous things lingering around the corner, it seems a calculated risk to reissue the collection of songs that arguably led to the band gaining such praise and publicity from a variety of online publications. Whereas the original EP consisted of four tracks, the group have included two entirely new and previously unheard recordings whilst also re-mastering all existing songs with the exception of noticeable absentee "The Waves", thus creating an element of familiarity and yet enabling these tracks to move in new and previously unexplored directions.
The opening track, "Sleep Patterns", begins with an introduction of swirling distortion within the background, elegant ambient guitar textures and a lovely combination of strings and synths each given moments to flourish and captivate. As has previously been the case, the lead vocals of Denise Nouvion are as beautiful and utterly breathtaking as ever, and the arrangements and compositions from Evan Abeele are sparse and cinematic. In fact, the redeeming quality of the track can arguably be attributed to Nouvion allowing her vocals to float solemnly, her voice assimilating with much the same ambiance as her surroundings as she sings, "Wait indoors, slept to waste the time until I hear the sound of your footsteps climbing up the porch as it rains / trembling voices propagate these rooms / I keep my eyes closed and listen to the trains". "Lately" continues the gorgeous slow-tempo start to the record, but this time the track is driven by a steady bass drumbeat, fleeting traces of cello, swaths of keyboard and dual piano lines, yet it's not until the wounding vocals of Nouvion enter into proceedings does one get the feeling that the track is both piercingly direct and saturated in immersive imagery. "Lately I'm not sleeping, I'm not breathing without machines" Nouvion sings in a fragile whisper only moments before an ingrained sense of sorrow and sadness pushes her pained and pleading vocals under a surface of reverb, "Shut me off, shut me off."
Returning fans will be delighted to hear that the two previously unheard tracks are among the strongest the band have yet written, and "Modern, Normal" even features studio drumming which makes a pleasant addition given that the band seem to favor the more efficient formula of drum machines. Distorted snippets of hurried conversation and the metallic chiming of keys open the aforementioned track before submerged piano notes launch into the most weightless, spirited and accessible chorus The Years contains. The two minute duration of "Quiet America" closes the release in superb fashion for as soon as the track begins, a dreamy atmosphere fluctuates in and out of the mix, gentle raindrops litter the track and there are even occasional traces of an analog tape wheel spinning within the production threatening at times to tear the lovely slow moving ballad at its seams. Slow keys echo and fade in waves of gentle distortion, strings make a brief reappearance but thankfully, as is so often the case, the grandeur never attempts to overthrow the sincere, stunning and compelling female vocal melodies that give the track an underlying essence of closure and finality.
There is little doubt that some will argue that the three returning tracks needn't have been recreated for they were already beautifully written and constructed, others will argue that they've spent so much time with the original version of The Years that they just can't seem to warm to the subtle differences that each track now possesses. If you're a returning fan battling misgivings, at the very least you should find enjoyment and gradual adoration in the two new tracks that are present here, for they may well give a tantalizing glimpse into the future sound Memoryhouse will be looking to further refine on their upcoming debut full-length. For the curious and intrigued, this reworked version of The Years is certainly the perfect starting avenue to falling in love with a band that creates luscious audible soundscapes that have the capacity to resonate with its audiences.
Isn't Lately's main riff taken from a song in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind? Even so, I always enjoyed their version, so I will check this out!
Yeah it is, in the earlier ep, the sample is directly from the score. This version they just use the notes for it on piano. If you enjoy that piece, and Lately, i'd check out the earlier version if you have not.
It took a few listens for the tracks to sink in my mind. At first they all sounded kind of similar to me but proved to be really good album after a while.. My piano lesson teacher really likes it too.. :)