Harley Alexander - Universal Love (Poncho Records) 
Harley Alexander - Universal Love

You have got to believe that I'm running out of Canadian bands to review by now but they just keep on coming at me, like shoppers on Boxing Day. Nevertheless, here comes Harley Alexander with an album that starts off sounding like an outtake from OK Computer but with more soul. You see, 'Digital Citizens' is an eccentric but delightful piece of prog-psyche with garage rock influences with a relentless bass plod and the vocal stylings of Talking Heads or Arcade Fire. 'Memory Mobile' is a jauntier, breezier affair with 60s pop guitars while 'Eric Breezy' sounds like Jabba The Hutt introducing the Beach Boys doing shoegaze in an 80s Northern Soul club with Morrissey on guest vocals. Already you'll be getting the impression that this is slightly off-kilter stuff and the piano lounge lilt of 'Scaredey Cats (feat. Dr Strongdoctor)' does nothing to dispel this conclusion.

Nevertheless, there is something here worth tuning in to as the summery sway of 'Bonne Voyage' seduces the listener like a co-worker turning up to a company summer social looking roughly 83% more attractive than you have ever seen them before. There's a rebellious side to Harley Alexander as well, though, and 'F Da Man' shows this off perfectly despite the chilled guitars and rolling drum shuffle that makes you want to put on a velour suite and grow an improbable moustache. Title track 'Universal Love' features some delightful finger clicks and the kind of flange heavy guitars that you just don't hear enough of these days as the vocals come pouring out like a well mixed cocktail. The album closes with 'Borg Fest' which is perhaps the most commercial tune as it takes in elements of Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema Club before metamorphosing in to a velvet voiced piece of 80s indie with some liberal cursing. Whatever the Canadians are doing musically it's definitely working and I would recommend you at least check out the army of quality bands coming out of Maple Leaf country if you can't manage to get yourself a one way ticket over there.

More Information: https://www.facebook.com/harleyalexandermusic