Initially the home recording outfit of Montreal singer/guitarist Enzo Palermo, Code Pie has greatly expanded in both numbers (the band is now a six-piece) and in sound on Love Meets Rage, the group’s third album. The first half of the record is awash in the kind of lush, orchestral beauty that has come to typify the Montreal indie bands of the previous decade, but Code Pie’s songs wind up unusual and all the more captivating for the attentive listening that they encourage. Note, for instance, such subtleties as the percussion ticks and warm feedback squalls that sneak into the large, colorful canvas of “Penny Lane” horns and loping strings on the shoegaze-y “Morning After”, or the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mingling of chimes and acoustic guitar arpeggios on the soft, dreamy “Before I Forget”. The rest of the album is similarly layered, whether offering up a convincing Wilco-meets-Sgt. Peppers mash-up on “North Side City View” or weaving in disparate sounds like a ‘70s-style washboard on the Sloan-like retro power pop jaunt of “Operator”.
Yet for all that sweeping panorama, Code Pie is never content to languish in one sound for too long, so when the album takes a turn for the darker and moodier in its second half, it becomes a knottier, though no less interesting, listen. To hear the relative sparsity of a track like “Tunnels Run Division” after the widescreen drama that preceded it is a bit of a shock, but the band’s attention to detail and colorful range remain constant, allowing the song to move, jarringly yet convincingly, from drifting ambience to an explosive, gritty rock ‘n’ roll rave up. Code Pie expertly renders such small touches as the skipping cello on “Heart Spit” and the drum clatter on the tense “Muddy Shoes” as tiny yet resonant flourishes. Even if all of this consequently leaves Love Meets Rage feeling like a far from coherent listen, Code Pie’s trippy little wonderland is an enjoyably unpredictable place to visit.
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