‘Love at the End of the World’ is bland in the end
Drew St. Claire
As the tag on this album informed me, “Sam Roberts is from Canada.” Now, I have no problems with our neighbors to the north–I’m a huge fan of hockey and I’ve always adored their delicious syrups. But, I have to concede that Love at the End of the World falls just a bit short of American quality.
The album starts off with its title track, and showcases a lot of the positive aspects Mr. Roberts has going for him and his version of indie rock. The intro has a folksy Western pulse to it, and after Sam’s vocals come in, it melts into a rock beat that is reminiscent of the Raconteurs or JET, but a little bit more subdued. His voice is interesting and similar in timbre to John Lennon or Liam Gallagher from Oasis, but with accents of Steely Dan.
“Stripmall Religion” opens up exactly like something from the Coldplay catalogue, but Roberts’ voice works well in lieu of Chris Martin. The song then transitions into a simple Pinback-style rhythm and some decent lyrics about isolation and disillusionment in modern American, or I’d suppose Canadian society.
One of Roberts’ last good stands on the album is “Them Kids.” Opening with a Minus the Bear-type vibe and breaking into a happy danceable tune about nostalgia for a day when kids knew how to rock n’ roll, “Them Kids” is an example of where the Canadian’s music shines. But, with the small exception of tracks like “Fixed to Ruin” and “Oh Maria”, the album doesn’t offer much of anything new.
It just sort of fades into the background with a steady melody, only reminding me of its presence ever so often with a jolt from one of the more lively tracks. The softer parts don’t have enough to say to make me want listen closer, and most of the louder parts don’t offer more than a tempo for clicking my tongue.
If you’re very involved with the indie rock scene, you’ve probably already bought this album or you know there is no way you would ever buy it. If you are not quite that knowledgeable, I’d recommend a stepping stone or two before you decide on this one. Your money might best be spent on something guaranteed to please, like Pinback or Arcade Fire. Better yet, you could try checking out some of the local bands, like Red Collar and Birds of Avalon.
In short, Love at the End of the World is like the maple syrup they make in Sam Roberts’ homeland – sweet and flavorful at first, but after a while it just gets bland.
88.1 WKNC DJ Pick of the Week is published in every Tuesday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.