Purported to be cut from the same high-energy cloth as Ra Ra Riot and Freelance Whales, this 10-song affair from a band of the Great White North is often best when it’s being more laid-back and more in tune with the country than the city. Case in point is the opening track, “Algonquin”, which rocks about as hard as the Fleet Foxes on a lazy Sunday morning, but is all the more enjoyable for it. Later numbers such as “Music Box” and “Lullaby” further drive this point home. The early, easy rockers “Banjo” and “Smoke Lake” are surely easier to shake your groove thing to but they don’t seem to strike from the emotional center of Dark Mean that is sensitive without being unsettling or morose, and strong without being overbearing. The songwriting presented here suggests a band that will likely develop into a strong contender for the Canadian indie folk crown but is, at the moment, still finding its collective feet.
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