By Jennie Orton
VANCOUVER — Peter Dreimanis’s voice rolls over the confessional lyrics in “Touch,” the thundering closing track on July Talk’s sophomore album of the same name. Like thick tires rumbling over the loose gravel, his Tom Waits’y growl is enveloped by crescendos of backing vocals and ominous piano, as the thud of a human heartbeat shoves itself past the Snapchat feed that is modern life. As July Talk takes their “come together” stage persona to the road with an album that explores themes like connection, longing, and intimacy in the modern age, the band gets a rare opportunity to see the evolution of communication wrangle with the body’s desire for physical catharsis.
“I think the interest on focussing on the human connection, be it of a physical nature or just looking each other eye to eye, presented itself to us because we are worried like everyone else is, that all of these new ways we are being given to connect to each other digitally are really meant to bring us closer together but we haven’t quite figured out how to do that for real yet,” Dreimanis posits.
July Talk seems to have set out to show the palpable and important new world emerging between the old and new definitions of connection. Touch is a reflective, sometimes sexy sometimes sad, look at intimacy in the millennial age. The music is pleasing, and close, and seductive, but there is a hunger that never lets go; like a rumbling stomach. This is due in part to the lyrics, which stagger between sultry game playing and fitful declarations of frustrated self-awareness.
The album also owes its palpable viscera to the decision to record the whole thing live. Recorded with producer Ian Davenport, who routinely avoids the use of a click track, July Talk was able to replicate the energy of their storied live show on the album.
“It was all about capturing the moment,” says Dreimanis. “We wanted to hear the humanity in it.”
The band has a well earned reputation for talking with fans after the show and it is this bridging of that gap that July Talk has always found to be cathartic and beneficial.
“I think there was a vibe in every room that we played that felt a little culty. It was a group of people who were in on this little thing that was bigger than the five of us and just sort of happened,” he admits. “There has been an immense feeling of connection in the room.”
So as the band crawls along the highways of North America, spitting whiskey into the crowd and then hugging the people it hit when the lights go up, they become innately aware of the fine line between a digitally curated self and a sweaty moment between hot bodies.
“There is something really weird about that, like for example when you are having your Thanksgiving dinner in a van at 7 p.m. and all of your families are tucking their babies in after having a big turkey dinner back home,” says singer Leah Fay. “But there is also something really special about having an insight and seeing the world through those really brief moments of human connection with people in a breakfast room at a Quality Inn.”
So when Dreimanis and Fay sing, “We get so tired and lonely, we need a human touch. Don’t wanna give ourselves away too much,” during the aforementioned “Touch,” you can hear that disconnected comfort we all share within the iOS, and our secret desire to stage dive into the arms of a crowd just like us.
“The shame within it is the elements with ourselves that we are ashamed of or embarrassed by are usually the most interesting and intriguing parts of ourselves,” he muses. “A lot of what neglects to be shown ends up being the stuff that is going to make the person who is gonna fall in love with you fall in love with you.”
July Talk performs at the Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver) November 23 & 25, Sugar Nightclub (Victoria) November 26, Union Hall (Edmonton) November 29 & December 2, MacEwan Hall (Calgary) December 3, Louis’ (Saskatoon) December 6 and Garrick Centre (Winnipeg) December 7.AB, Alberta, BC, British Columbia, Commodore Ballroom, Garrick Centre, July Talk, Louis', MacEwan Hall, Manitoba, MB, Saskatchewan, SK, Sugar Nightclub, Touch, Union Hall