characteristically sterling pop from these winsome Vancouverites,
whose last album is but a distant memory from 2003. In the interim,
they've maintained square radio silence, despite an unlikely
appearance on Australian children's television program Yo Gabba
Gabba! Well, I still recall the glorious, meaningless AM-pop of
2000's sugary "Bubba Da" -- my lone exposure to the troupe, I should
mention -- though Moths is a whole new story. They retain
their cheery demeanour and their undisguised love of sixties pop
stylings, but the overall charm is somehow more polished, and more
refined. Lyrically, Moths deals in a sense of disillusionment
which sets up a neat juxtaposition with the band's melodic
effusiveness. Lead songwriter Scott LD Walker is no Paul
Heaton, but he does sweat out more than a few frustrations
through these six songs; these come to a point on regretful "All We
Want is What You've Got" and deceptively bitter "Sunnyside
Musically, the band
brandishes an intimidating set of hooks, powering through sticky melodic phrases with professional fluency. Opener "Frequency" and
"All We Want is What You've Got" see the band at their best, the
former a Sloan-esque reminder of Canadian indie rock glory,
the latter an irresistible bittersweet epic. Meanwhile, "Hallowed Ways"
emphasizes the points they share with citymates The New
Pornographers, with dramatic, horns-and-piano tinged
instrumentation, and swoopy group harmonies. Fiery rocker
"We Can Go On," though serviceable, is the record's weak spot; as the guitars are
turned up, Walker's juicy sound loses some of its potent sheen -- at
least in relation to its discmates. Still, it's a lone and minor
pockmark on an otherwise swell EP; the bulk of Moths is
populated with enough zippy choruses, melodic flourishes, and
moments of deft songwriting to render it highly recommendable.
Let's talk about your appearance on
'Yo Gabba Gabba' -- was the experience as cheery and fun as the
songs would suggest? How did it come to fruition in the first place?
When we toured the first two records we
befriended a great pop band from Orange County called Majestic.
Scott from Majestic and all of his friends and family went on to
create 'Yo Gabba Gabba,'
and we got the call in season 1 to do a song. And then we did
another song. And then they asked us to come on set and shoot a
video. And honestly, I think that it is the best thing we have ever
done. At the same time, in the process of recording songs that
someone else had written, we discovered that there was a Salteens
formula to arranging a song. That realization informed our
recordings since then –mostly as a sense
of creative freedom because we had certainly gone as far as we could
with that sound.
How did the creative process behind
Moths differ from that of your two prior albums?
Moths is really strange because
it is a bunch of recordings done over a number of years, but it
sounds like a pretty unified effort. We mostly recorded the songs a
few at a time, so we didn’t have that same rushed “get ten songs
recorded in 3 days” vibe that we had worked with previously.
Comparatively heavy "All We What is
What You've Got" is one of Moths' undeniable highlights. Could you
elaborate on the angst expressed within?
Well, 9 out of 10 current band members
have a music degree, so I tend to write a few metaphors that are
nerdy music term related (I tend to talk about what I think about),
and there was a shared sense of us all growing up and getting
straight jobs, so that is in there, and certainly for myself, there
was a lot of pressure in my life at the time to conform to a more
conventional measure of success, so that is in there too.
With other bands breaking rallying
around feedback noise, epic keyboard shards, and abstract song
structures, is there still room for good ol' fashioned Canadian
indie rock on the scene?
Um, I don’t really know. I think that
maybe we are into the same noise, abstraction, and epic ideas, but
we are just subtle about it, if not subversive. Is that Canadian-esque?
What do y'all like to eat with