The West Coast, as common knowledge may suggest, represents an iconic natural environment. Making reference to a particular connection to that territory, Said the Whale are back with a new album, Cascadia. Out since February 8th via Arts & Crafts, this mature effort by the Vancouver band arrives two years after the praised As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide.
The work contains twelve, well calibrated songs, reflecting quality production and consistent sound. On the other end, the journey mostly happens at one speed, navigating a placid lake in the middle of the forest. One can also hike and admire polished musical mountains and valleys, although the peaks, descents and cataracts are not so abundant, such as the thrills.
Showing a steady alt-pop centre does not close the room for variations: “Wake Up” is the emblem of that. It starts as a ballad, bridges with free-stylish moments and then kills it with the chorus. Its impact is powerful in the fact it musically merges mainstream and experimentation, with a grasp of the present. The title track “Cascadia” displays dream-pop as regards both style and content, whereas “UnAmerican” shows a different angle with its fast, enjoyable rhythm.
To some extent radio-friendly, “Record Shop” rocks it with a great riff. It is an example of a song in which the harmonies triumph. With the drums and the keyboard standing out too, this well-studied gathering gives the track an ensemble feeling.
A pair of matching tracks conclude this organic work. The reassuring pop of “Level Best” is coupled with the melodic, meditative ode “Gambier Island Green”. This choice pinpoints balance and how it highlights the album, being its multifaceted key all along. Cascadia, in the end, feels like a pleasant travel, one you would go back to with your memories, gladly looking through its picture album.