By Al Kaufman
The Toronto duo, Memoryhouse, released a four-song EP, The Years, on Arcade Sound a little over a year ago. On this version for Sub-Pop, they’re up to five songs (replacing “the Waves” with “Modern Normal” and “Quiet America”). They also re-recorded the remaining three songs. At this rate, by 2016 they should be ready to release a full fledged album.
Memoryhouse play ambient music, but with a bit of a twist. That twist is named Denise Nouvion. While Evan Abeele plays all the instruments (piano, guitar, drums, violin and Wurlitzer), Nouvion sings in an ’80s style to the point that you can hear the bleached blonde hair dye come through in her voice (except that Nouvion does not dye her hair blonde). Hers is a voice reminiscent of Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries (who often dyed her hair black). It is a voice that cuts through the fog of a song like “Sleep Patterns.” Too often though, it blends into the dreamy and dreary music, such as on “Modern, Normal,” to the point that it is difficult to determine if she is singing or chanting.
There are a lot of references to sleep and dreams in here, and the music may often induce such actions, but Abeele offers some nice touches throughout, such as the violin on “Lately” and the swelling organ on “Quiet America.” “To the Lighthouse” opens up like a bright spring day, recalling XTC’s stellar Skylarking album.
This is Enya with pop tendencies. It’s not a combination that always works, but it goes well with scented candles and rubbing oils.