The Coast – Expatriate
Record Label: Afternoon Records
Re-Release Date: May 5, 2009
The Coast aren’t experimental or crazy or mind-bending or anything like that. They don’t meld Middle Eastern influences with Scottish bagpipes. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic. Each poppy chorus and thoughtful bridge adds to the cerebral appeal of Expatriate. The Canadian dudes of The Coast use the familiar to change our perceptions; pop music doesn’t have to be trite or anticipatory. Experimental music doesn’t have to be arrhythmic or melodically sparse. Why can’t “I expected that” and “Whoa, what?!” live happily ever after?
Expatriate needs digesting. Grab your favorite reading chair and pour over Ben Spurr’s lyrics. Or just take a hot bath in the soothing sounds of his pipes. Spurr’s voice is fragile and (somehow) secure, and his tenor works just as well over handclaps (“Tightrope”) as it does over darkly shaded alt-rock (“Killing Off Our Friends”). For tunes as diverse as these, Spurr has to be a jack-of-all-trades. If the band decides to add horns and rely on Jordan Melchiorre’s drums, like they do on “Ceremony Guns”, Spurr has to be ready for a seat in the atmospheric background. Moving around from style to style isn’t the forte of most pop bands, so it’s nice to hear one (from Canada no less!) that makes it their mission to keep us guessing. However, even as we look over our shoulders to see just where we came from, we’re singing along as each new chorus blasts through the mist.
And then there’s “Play Me The Apostle.” As unappetizing as faux-country ballads sound, this song is the emotional centerpiece of Expatriate. A sparsely played electric guitar is the only backdrop for Spurr, who croons like a man spurned: “Noone’s honest when you’re asking for lies / Give me yours and I’ll give you mine / You and me, we ain’t got no fire left / But we can still outrun this town / Keep me around.” A certain ironic hope prevails when this song ends. There’s no resolution of any kind. Spurr and the guitar just, well, stop. So we wonder if the song's couple are okay, but remember: everyone likes a happy ending. Spurr leaves us to collect the pieces. We alone decide the fate of these lovers. And this is good, because listener involvement is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. As we become woven into the fabric of a piece like “Play Me The Apostle,” it becomes harder to separate our lives with that of The Coast. Just like that, a whole new chapter has been added to our lives.
Oh, and if I had to guess, I’d say the couple from “Play Me The Apostle” is just fine.
Recommended If You Like:Tokyo Police Club, British Sea Power, gushers, U2-lite, cans o' worms