Record Review: Kathryn Calder

Kathryn Calder
Bright and Vivid
Victoria, BC

“Mystifyingly beautiful, intensely layered and adventurous”

Angelic Canadian Kathryn Calder (New Pornographers/Immaculate Machine) sings with abandon, fearlessly ushering in the new. Bright and Vivid is an exposé, an adventure, and offers listeners a broad palate crossing multiple genres and instrumentally-erected boundaries. Calder also, at times, bares one of the most furtive and innocent synth/voice combos since the Postal Service era (sans-any undermining emo pretenses). Her songwriting explores the limits of keyboard-driven melody while dodging the alluring, yet passing chill wave. She tinkers with unusual chamber pop instrumentation: invoking strings and superficial electronic orchestration. Although her voice in the New Pornographers is traditionally unmarred by production effects, here she asserts distortion and veils her tone in the music.

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“Walking in My Sleep” recalls Figurine, where indeed twee is conjured, but Calder takes a matured route. Drums, electric guitars and vibrant lyrics build on her roots as the chorus arrives on a riff. Throughout her sophomore release, the songwriting focuses on the kind of change and independence the album, in every sense, is uniquely sewn.

Then there are larks like “All the Things,” where vocals hide beneath the folds of instrumentation, emerging momentarily midway, where Calder’s soft tone rises from plucking violins and bowing cellos, singing “Finally, I see how it truly is / And it has taken me a while.”

Calder has come into her own, forking from the New Pornographer boy/girl interplay, tightening a signature sound that’s textured and gem-filled. She’s created something uncommon and extraordinary in pop music: an album loaded with melody-driven hooks, depth and complexity. Bright and Vivid resurrects the sound of pop music long ignored and finds a way not to simply renew, but to break ground and challenge the listener. (File Under: Music)

Engineered by Colin Stewart

Recorded and Mixed in Kathryn’s Living Room

Mastered at The Hive by Stuart McKillop

Produced by Kathryn Calder and Colin Stewart

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