It’s been four years since Montreal quintet Sunfields released their underrated debut Palace In the Sun. As much as that album channeled its influence from fellow Canadian Neil Young, their newest offering Habitat could easily be mistaken for an album of early Wilco b-sides. Good company to keep, though one feels and hears these influences a little too closely on Habitat. Lead singer Jason Kent, one time touring guitarist for fellow Canadian indie rock sensations The Dears, even has a hint of Tweedy’s twang, though his lyrics lack Tweedy’s heartbreaking wit and irony.
The album kicks off with a excellent song entitled "Ghost". Kent delivers a fantastic vocal performance with a impressive array of instrumentation to support his melodies. He sings "You’re just like a ghost no one can touch you at all You’ve got eyes like a wheel and hands like a burning wall". "Sentimental Heart" is packed with visceral emotion while "Oh! Dear Mother" contains infectious vocal melodies.
The first half of Habitat is a mixed bag of flimsy, folksy, guitar riffs, and poppy choruses. Though Habitat hits its stride with a melodic medley beginning with the up-tempo “Drunken Choir” which gets a beautiful boost from backing vocals by singer-songwriter and fellow alt country Canadian Angela Desveaux. Hard rocking “Hungry Animals” is a blend of fiery guitar licks, fuzz and feed back, with the organ and drums crashing like waves in the background. The well-spoken “Mumbled Words” is a poetic alt country ballad, complete with catchy riffs and whiny organ, presents itself as a clear cut single for the album.
On the heartily romantic “Here Come That Dream Again” Kent again does his best Tweedy impression, though this time it works to his benefit. The song in part turns into something of a psychedelic folk ballad, culminating with a hint of rock n roll before coming to a piano solo close. Habitat seems to have saved the best for last.
The album finishes with the Beatlesque “Belly of the Sun”. Trippy and melodic it shows a divergence from much of the albums earlier verse chorus repetitiousness. As fuzzed out guitar solos blend with the high-pitched squeal of the organ and pounding drums, it feels as though Sunfields may have finally found a sound to call their own.
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