[8 September 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
If you’re remotely familiar with the Toronto dream pop duo Memoryhouse, you might be a bit puzzled to see a current review of The Years EP. You might be asking yourself, “Hasn’t this EP been out for some time already?” And to that I would say you’re absolutely right – to a certain degree. The Years EP was originally floated out in early 2010 to a fair amount of acclaim as a digital-only, self-released item, but Sub Pop, who snapped up this new band, decided to go ahead, have the band re-record, remix or re-master parts of the extended play and re-release it in advance of Memoryhouse’s first full-fledged full-length due sometime next year. However, there are some changes that go beyond a simple redo of the tunes. A song has been dropped from the original four-track running order (“The Waves”), and two new songs have been added (“Modern, Normal” and “Quiet America”). With the wave of Sub Pop’s magic wand, The Years EP has been rendered shiny and somewhat new again.
It’s easy to see why Sub Pop snapped up this Canadian band: their sound is not too far removed from the glacial and dreamy soundscapes offered up by label mates Beach House. Another point of reference would be to imagine if Broken Social Scene took a handful of Valium and blissed out on a soft, pillow-like trip. The Years EP is the kind of record that you’d listen to on headphones while reclining against a tree on a grassy knoll in the late evening, watching the sun go down and seeing pinkish red light reflect on billowing clouds lazily floating by overhead. The music’s not quite chillwave, because it doesn’t really reference ‘80s synth pop, and it’s not quite shoegaze, because there aren’t any multi-tracked guitars creating a drone of cacophony. Yet, these two genres seem to be perfect reference points to talk about the orchestrated bedroom pop (now on a budget) that Memoryhouse has conjured up with their re-imagined EP. The production is full and lush, the female vocals sublime, and the songwriting is top drawer. It may be possible that you’ve already heard The Years EP, but not quite like this in all of its panoramic wonder. All in all, The Years EP is a perfect morsel-sized appetizer for next year’s main course.