Album of the Week: P.S. I Love You’s ‘Death Dreams’ Puts The Duo in the Midst of the 2012 Rock Revival
With the release of their sophomore album, Death Dreams, the rock duo PS I Love You, have delivered fans more of what they loved with the bands dazzling debut, Meet Me At The Muster Station – a gutsy musical homage to their hometown of Kingston, Ontario – an album that received high praise from critics and fans alike around the world when it first dropped in 2010.
To the casual on-looker, P.S. I Love You’s quick rise to the summit of the intensely competitive Canadian music landscape is impressive. Band members Benjamin Nelson and Paul Saulnier began an intensive, worldwide tour after the release of Muster Station. Now they’re back with a new album that is brimming with inspiration and passion, shredding guitar riffs, rhythmic bass lines, and energetic drums.
The title track and album opener, “Death Dream,” is unlike P.S. I Love You has ever recorded – it is a brooding, dark instrumental. Unlike anything P.S. I Love You have released to date, the song is a recreation of a melody played by a ‘death march band’ from one of Saulnier’s dreams.
The song that is most likely to find its way around the web and into many smartphones and MP3 players is the incredibly catchy and memorable, “Don’t Go.” It’s also the kind of track that is ready-made for a rock FM station’s playlist – oozing with indie rock pop, buzzing with melodies, sounding a bit like early 90’s The Cure, and more chilled than other tracks, as well as one of few tracks with synths, which adds another layer of sound and intrigue, especially since they don’t use synths too often.
One of the first singles they released, “Princess Towers,” is an edgy punk rock track, but it wouldn’t have been one our choices for one of the first singles. Still, each song on the album stands on it’s own, unlike other albums where there are plenty of disposable songs, or one song after another that is little more than a variation of the one that came before it. The second track, “Sentimental Dishes,” is blazing with passionate melodies and punk-like choruses, not to mention the stellar electric guitar jams – it reminds us a little bit of The Cars mixed with The Ramones.
“Princess Towers” – P.S. I Love You from Death Dreams
It’s interesting that there are two solid songs on the album about places in Canada – “Toronto” and “Saskatoon,” both of which are fine tunes, especially the latter. We have a fascination with songs about places – towns, cities, countries and states. In fact, we’ve done a number of playlists called the State of Music mixtape series, which features terrific songs that have something to do with a city or state, not simply in the lyrics, but the song title especially.
(The State of Music playlist series, in a different way, was picking up where Sufjan Stevens left off when it was becoming apparent that the wasn’t going to finish his “states project,” in which he said he was going to strive to create an album about all 50 states. More on this story coming up next week, so you might want to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be reminded when it comes out. In the meantime, check out the State of Music songs series. More in the works.)
Other tracks like “How Do You” and “Red Quarter” are also strong rockers, and help make Death Dreams one of the albums we recommend for the summer – there’s really not one throw away track on here. Plus, the fact that two guys are able to create such a full and noisy sound is impressive.
Even though it’s the last track on the album, “First Contact” is more of a catchy and danceable summer rocker than yet another terrific track “Future Dontcare,” which actually features lyrics about summer: “I wish this summer is gonna last forever,” delivered by Saulnier’s quirky, high-pitched vocals – which sometimes sound like a teenager who’s voice is changing, yet at the same time it works with the duo’s 70s-ish punk rock sound.
The more we listen to the album, the more we come to recognize, and appreciate, that P.S. I Love You is evolving as a serious and solid rock duo. Some say that their newest LP is not much of a progression from their debut, but give it time and you’ll hear a definite maturation of their sound, while maintaining the original style and brilliance of their debut, which garnered the pair worldwide praise on and offline (is there offline anymore?) from critics, bloggers and fans. It also puts P.S. I Love You squarely in the midst of the rock revival phenomenon of 2012 (the year is almost half over?!). If you’re a lover of smart and bold guitar rock, you’ve got to get Death Dreams.
Various genre and sub-genre labels are put on P.S. I Love You, but what we hear on Death Dreams is the work of a talented duo of musicians who can deliver fine rock and roll while avoiding the trappings that have become so much a part of the indie rock scene in recent years – layers of oozing synthesizers, dubs, reverb and feedback, quirky song titles and lyrics, fuzzy melodies, Afro-pop tropical influenced rhythms and beats, surf rock infusions, lazy, hazy faded out ‘chillwave’ and so on. There’s a lot of great music that came out from all of that, but PSILY have avoided much of it by opting to stick to the foundations of rock and punk.
Don’t take just our word for it. Prefix Magazine wrote: “If ‘just trying to play with passion’ is the ethos, then consider…Death Dreams, the perfection.” The A.V. Club submitted, “…the pair have accumulated enough momentum that they sound ready to bust out…and take the rest of the world on, one graceful guitar burst at a time,” while Paste Magazine called Death Dreams “devastatingly beautiful.” However, Pitchfork, perhaps because of its particular music tastes, were less enthusiastic, giving the album only a 6.4, and commenting that Death Dreams “can come off like a retreat in light of how much tuneful, wooly garage rock has come out since [the duo’s debut album].”
While on the road Saulnier began to have reoccurring dreams centered around, as dark as it may sound, his mortality. Triggered by life on the road – these images, created by Saulnier’s subconscious have, shaped the direction of Death Dreams.
PS I Love You’s 2012 Tour Dates
5/15 – The Garrison – Toronto, ON
5/19 – The Casbah – Hamilton, ON
5/21 – The Alex P Keaton – London, ON
5/23 – Schubas Tavern – Chicago, IL
5/25 – Mercury Lounge- New York, NY
5/26- Glasslands – Brooklyn, NY
5/28 – The Outer Space – Hamden, CT
5/29 – The Capital Complex – Fredericton, NB
5/30 – Hunters Ale House – Charlottetwon, PE
5/31 – Michael’s – Halifax, NS
6/2 – Il Motore – Montreal, QC
6/9 – The Grad Club – Kingston, ON
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