Despite not having any members of Broken Social Scene in tow, the Most Serene Republic springs from Canada’s Arts & Crafts collective with Underwater Cinematographer, a debut that spirals downstream into dreary non-sequiturs faster than the glue addict who lives four blocks from me. Just like the problems belonging to the basket case down the street, the problems on this album aren’t easily spotted.
After a pleasant “Prologue” and an elegantly complicated “Content Was Always My Favorite Color,” the Milton, Ontario-based band finds most of its serenity in vocals that occasionally sound as if singer Adrian Jewett let Wayne Coyne sub in after Coyne finished all the helium the band had set aside for the record-release party. But it seems the band members want glue, not helium, and they’ve hit up my neighbor for some. They want to turn it into some big ol’ glue huffin’ party. Only my neighbor doesn’t have any glue, man. He dropped out of school to make music, just like these guys probably did, and now he’s paying the price. The price is about $1.75 a day, for more glue.
When it comes time for the first chorus of “(Oh) God,” the busy guitars, piano and upbeat drums slow to a swing beat, and the main lyrics appear to be replaced with a repeated, grating mantra — “oh my god” — that seems to go on forever. At the end of the fifth track, “Proposition 61,” a bunch of gentlemen are screaming something nonsensical over and over again before what seems to be a dance number begins. Enter “Where Cedar Nouns and Adverbs Walk.” “Where” also retreats to a shouting chorus that repeats for at least two-and-a-half minutes, but this time it’s over a series of different tempos and what is definitely one of the record’s more exciting pop songs, in its dreamy washes of vocal harmonies and organs. And “Where,” finally, has nearly coherent lyrics.
The catch-phrase shouting happens again at the end of “Relative’s Eyes” and probably somewhere else, but I can’t really handle anymore. I’m as tired as Jewett is on the intro of “King of No One,” when he is desperately but unsuccessfully seeking out a lounge-y melody to sing along with jazzy acoustic chords and ambient room sounds. By the end of the album’s first third, my glue-sniffing neighbor seems like tolerable, reasonable company. I may just scrape up two bucks for him and head on over there. When he gets nice and wound up he likes to rub strawberry preserves all over his face. It’s pretty funny.