On Blonde

Yukon Blonde

Dine Alone Records, 2015


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


“Our last record was dipping our toes into the late ‘70s and early ‘80s waters, and clearly for the last three years we haven’t been listening to anything else,” said Yukon Blonde’s Jeffrey Innes in a recent interview for The Vancouver Sun  in regards to the New Wave and electro influences on the band’s 2012 release Tiger Talk and their latest effort, On Blonde. Nothing further could be said about the musical trajectory of this Vancouver-based outfit, and On Blonde is a lovely blend of the different flavors of New Wave music.

Even though Yukon Blonde uses the sounds that we are all familiar with as the skeleton of this album, they add their own touch to make something that still sounds exciting and fresh. The album’s strength are its great songwriting and also the stylistic diversity; for instance, the total darkwave synthgasm of “Starvation,” jangly dreampop of “Como,” and fuzzed-out grimy glam rock of “I Wanna Be Your Man,” just to name a few contrasting examples.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In addition, there is singer Jeffery Innes’ voice. On the face of it, Innes’ singing does not come across as exceptional. But his vocals fit so easily with the different musical styles explored on this album that it is pretty impossible not to be impressed with his singing. Innes sounds not only effortless changing his singing approach from song to song, but he sings with swagger, giving a kind of ballsy attitude to the cuts on this album, which is something hard to find in the current crop of ‘80s inspired musicians, who are mostly terribly shy. If Innes were a one-dimensional singer, this album would have been quite different and not nearly as enjoyable.

On Blonde is a hell of a catchy record, even in spite of the fact that most of the album is not made up of straight-up pop numbers. There are strange and charming twists that come out of nowhere and are quite fascinating: for example, the dreamy Beach Boys harmonizing towards the end of the swaggeringly T-Rex-esque “I Wanna Be Your Man” or the heavy gothic pounding drumming that comes as a surprise on “Hanna,” which starts off very mellow in the rustic style of ‘70s folk music. Not to mention the unexpectedly droopy, slow motion chorus on the otherwise speedy and upbeat “Favourite People,” which occurs only once before the song changes and becomes something of a sans-vocals instrumental for the remaining half, which is kind of unusual, too.

The shimmering guitars, bass lines, synth stylings, and production characteristics on this album are unmistakably classic post-punk. But the arrangements and the variety of these arrangements make On Blonde something other than your typical monolithic New Wave inspired indie album. If the whole gamut of New Wave needs to be re-explored in one compact package, then let it be the Yukon Blonde way!

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2015 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Dine Alone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.