By Liam Prost
Hidden Pony Records
Said the Whale are absolutely one of the most earnest and hardworking Canadian bands. The Vancouver now-trio has long been making music that is as exuberantly friendly as it is fun loving. Even in their quiet and somber moments, STW has always been able to find ways to make us smile.
As Long as Your Eyes are Wide looks from the outset to be a more “mature” outing, with nakedly explicit explorations of grief and loss, coloured by a coat of new-fangled production. The record runs abundant with huge shimmering synth and guitar melodies, and the few remaining acoustic instruments serve more rhythmic purpose than texture, making for an unabashedly pop experience, albeit one with little to no compromise of the style and wit of their past releases.
Co-songwriters Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft trade off songwriting duties to great effect as usual, but it’s Worcester specifically whose work sparkles the brightest, stretching himself to a greater degree thematically, but also vocally, even if his tracks are less raw-ly emotional than Bancroft’s.
ASAYEAW feels intensely laboured, both in production and in songwriting. It takes a lot of emotional and intellectual investment to make a record like this, and STW does not make it look easy. Every song is an investment and their collective hearts are so far down their sleeves they might as well be wearing them as cufflinks.As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide, Said the Whale