July Talk came out with their self-titled first album in 2012 and Canadians have been singing their praises since and with good reason! Not many bands nowadays capture the spirit of blues rock straight from the Delta while having synth alternative elements incorporated into their music.
The quintet formed in Toronto after July Talk’s singer-guitarist (and Edmonton native) Peter Dreimanis saw Leah Fay sing with her previous band, Mothers of Brides, in a Toronto bar. After hearing her sing, he knew he wanted to start a band with her. Waking up the next morning, he knew he had to find her again. And so he did, convincing her to found July Talk with him. They embody conflict and dichotomy in every-thing they release, with Peter’s voice sounding like the personification of whiskey and cigarettes and Leah’s sultry call make for a gripping listening experience. Now that you know a little of the backstory of July Talk, we can talk about the highly anticipated follow up to July Talk’s debut.
The name Touch makes sense for July Talk as a band whose live performances are a staple of their brand. They’ve always made the theme of their songs relevant this way. Touching someone is intimate and this band is all about intimacy. The title also represents many things from the band’s own personal interaction, the interaction between the audience and the performers and how lovers connect and find communication through touch. Now let’s see what Touch has to offer.
The first song, “Picturing Love,” kicks off with a classic drum beat, adds some synth and then hits you hard with Peter’s unmistakable roar. Then the guitar picks up and ties the whole thing together. This song talks about how the digital era has changed the way we view love. A consequence of being interconnected is the expectations that are given to us through profiles online and the way love is marketed to us in media.
Now we move to “Beck + Call,” which features Canadian throat singer Tanya Tagaq. Her breathy beat mixes well with the drums and adds to the theming of this song about lust, love and using someone. This song gets straight to the point as it starts with a hot and heavy riff at the beginning.
“Now I Know” shows the feelings of falling in love all over again and takes us to a lighter, funkier side of July Talk while still retaining the dark chilly feeling, fitting with their black and white aesthetic.
“Johnny + Mary” gave me serious nostalgia for the first time I ever listened to July Talk (Sonic Boom 2012) while keeping with the evolution of their sound. It quite literally deals with the relationship between Johnny and Mary and their conflicting personalities.
“Strange Habit” is the most experimental song – off-putting and soft at the same time. This song tells us of the feeling of attraction for an old flame or some-one who keeps drawing you in. Powerful, while quiet, it makes for a moving listening experience.
“Push and Pull” is the big single from this album and it is popular for a reason. It takes its swing at July Talk’s constant theme of fighting with someone who is close to you. I thought this song really shows the evolution of how they make music. It’s still bluesy but now in more alt-rock territory and I love every second of it. This is a song that grabs you by the collar and yells here we are!
“Lola + Joseph” is about raw attraction between two people and you can feel it. The sexy riff behind the lyrics makes this song sound like a night on the town with a beautiful stranger.
“So Sorry” is about a couple growing apart and the fighting that ensues. In this song, you can feel the anger flow through you.
“Jesus Said So” is an interesting song that talks about modern society and the things that influence our lives.
Touch ends with the title track, which is a summary of July Talk. The band’s personal expression here deals with longing and opening up to your friends or loved ones. It builds slowly and puts the perfect bow on the album. It’s a fitting end to what turns out to be one of my favourite albums of the year! Give it a listen and throw some love July Talk’s way. They are coming to Edmonton on Nov. 29 and Dec. 2 at Union Hall.
– Bernie Bernhardt
Image from Chicago Splash