Youth is like a loose tooth, peeling mental collages of hometown gatherings, like film stills, bottle tops, jangling in your pocket, intimate signatures scrawled in American high school yearbooks. That word always makes me think of Thomas Sayers Ellis’ collection of poems The Maverick Room, a compendium of funk neighbourhood lyrics bred from his experience growing up in Washington D.C, brash rhythms which rupture monotony and the dullness of ‘yet another anthem’. It’s ‘Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop’ which best captures—or resonates with the beat of—that sense of the perma-stability of adolescence, floating in and between years:
Liquid love affairs,
At once expressing a nostalgia for those late-night escapades but also a fervent spirit of unapologetic protest, The Orielles’ latest release Silver Dollar Moments is a testament to the sheer brilliance of the band’s sound and their transporting narratives.”‘We met Henry at a house party a few years ago,” recalls Sid about the beginnings of the Halifax trio. “I mean, it’s a bit lamer than that sounds. It was a friend of our parents, she was having a 40th birthday party, and we went along, and Henry was there too, with his parents.” They’ve been writing songs together ever since, Esme on bass and singing, Sidonie on drums, Henry on guitar. Embracing those messy and exciting bends along the path of what we might call ‘youth’, The Orielles have crafted a perfect fusion of sunshine indie pop on their debut album. The songs themselves are brilliant collages of cinematic fragments, literature and physiological details of domestic animals. “So many pop songs are about relationships or growing up or whatever,” they say. “We wanted to write a few songs that make people think, What the hell is that about?” That thoughtful process of drawing inspiration from the world in composition is brought to the foreground on Silver Dollar Moments, with its glorious patchwork of odes to film classics and influences pulled out from their sprawling taste in music.
From the first ebullient chords on opening track ‘Mango’, The Orielles pull us into a mood that’s high-energy, but still questioning and contemplative, slowing at points to evoke the dream state reminiscent of Nicolas Winding-Refn’s film The Neon Demon (the music video for ‘Let Your Dog Tooth Grow’ is a gorgeous visual display of this). Defiant of typical indie-pop logic, it takes all kinds of turns, boppy rhythms, dreamy-arch harmonies, disco synth-pows and hyper-active bongos, unsettling submerged voices and hidden stories. With all that and more, the album flows like a fountain of indie pop, effortlessly fizzing through genres, flavours and eras. The second track on the album, ‘Old Stuff, New Stuff’, is the first that stuns, setting the record’s infectious tone with its rolling insistent bass in a way that conjures Ellis’s ‘Blind swimmers’—we’re plunged into an electric whirlpool of sensations and we never want to leave.
But its perpetual flitting between genres and themes doesn’t let us do so, with the following tracks on the album continuing our dizzying road trip through sonic space. ‘Let Your Dog Tooth Grow’ revels in the psychedelic throes of a rapturous summer, shaking up shoegazey pop sounds and funk with guitar riffs that throw us into the heart of a Brazilian carnival. The song draws its inspiration from Dogtooth, a surreal and decadently dark film by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos about two teenage sisters whose parents never let them leave the house. Esme’s angelic voice then enthrals in ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Risk)’, juxtaposed playfully with the bongos and retro ‘wah wah’ pedal of a rampant generation; each experimental layer of instrumentation bolsters the scene, adding dimension and teasing out thematic elements.
All the stories, sounds, and characters merge together to form an album that plays like a colourful collage of youth: it doesn’t flow perfectly, but maybe that was never the point. If you look up a ‘Silver Dollar Moment’, you’ll find that it means anything that’s unexpectedly brilliant. The Orielles are a quintessential example here, offering in their debut a tantilising treasure trove of their wayward experiences of global tours and festival sets, 3am drunken conversations, movie marathons and ‘liquid love affairs’.
“We played in Toronto, at this bar called the Silver Dollar Room”, explains Henry. “We’d been in Canada for 36 hours, no sleep, we’d already played at 10, then we played a show at the Silver Dollar at 2am and it was one of the best shows we’ve played. So a silver dollar moment became anything that’s good, but unexpectedly.”
Silver Dollar Moment is out 16 February via Heavenly Recordings – pre-order the album here.
-- Georgina Quach, February 15, 2018