Montreal’s Land of Talk, led by the sparkling Elizabeth Powell, spits out a kind of churning, bright, deliberately melodic rock that embodies the enduring spirit of youth — that period in our lives marked by overwhelming optimism and uncorrupted naivety. First released in Canada last year, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, the band’s seven-song debut EP, is a record to get attached to: It’s inviting, dangerous, charming, and, most important, unravels with layers of complexity.
Land of Talk has earned accolades across the Internet in the past year, and it’s clear why. The band is ideal for the blogosphere: The music’s combination of sweet hooks; brash, progressive instrumentation; and endearing charisma provides an assortment of easy-to-grasp qualities. “Sea Foam” and “Speak to Me Bones” drip with euphony and unbridled enthusiasm. “All My Friends” evolves from a catchy but by-the-numbers structured pop song into a progression of furious, unrestrained racket, somehow even more impressive than the melodies that first carried the song. “Streetwheels” sprawls and meanders, its instrumentation following Powell’s vocal longings until they overtake and overpower the song through an unrelenting feedback-powered jam. And the surprises don’t end after the excitement of the hooks wear off, which may be the true triumph of the music.
It’s ambitious to attempt to match catchy pop hooks with instrumentation this deep, and it’s impressive that Land of Talk was able to do so and still create something that’s entirely accessible. Powell’s vocals — snotty, sensitive and dynamic all at once — coupled with the driving, progressive songwriting lead to an ocean of potential discovery. Maybe it’s naivety, maybe it’s cockiness, maybe it’s that the band members just didn’t know any other way. But with a debut EP this driven, it’s obvious that Land of Talk had no trouble putting it all on the line.