Named after the British spy, The Kim Philbys aren’t exactly shadowy figures but they do paint some dark, yet memorable, music. The highlight by far has to be the sprawling, grandiose “Negligent”, which could be mistaken for Sloan trying to cover Coldplay but “Painting Song” also merits honorable mention. While it might take a while to sink one’s teeth into the haunting opener “Coral Canaries”, the band’s smart adult pop feel comes to the surface early and effortlessly. And how they build on that is what makes this album so appealing and appeasing. From there, the group wields more magic on the mid-tempo pop rock of “Last Song of the Year” and the equally gorgeous yet deliberate “Pretend We’re Dead”. Although occasionally veering into areas that rely on a bevy of fuzzed out guitar riffs, The Kim Philbys don’t experiment for the sake of experiment. When they go very gentle, as is the case with “Flag Football”, it comes off terribly strong, with its subtle string accents. The Kim Philbys close with a sense of melancholia with “Unbelievable”, which could have Stars’ Torquil Campbell waking up in a cold sweat from jealousy.
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// Notes from the Road
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