No Kids Come Into My House

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Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie pop
Others: The Fiery Furnaces, Danielson, P:ano

Judging from the record sales, not many of you caught the 2005 Mint Records debut of P:ano, Brigadoon. This is your shame, because that uniquely Canadian response to The Fiery Furnaces is about the most thoroughly stellar and creative addition to the Mint catalogue, next to their mini album follow-up the next year, Ghost Pirates Without Heads. Predating The Beach Boys necrophilia of Panda Bear's Person Pitch, the band failed to launch from Canada like the works of labelmates Neko Case and The New Pornographers, and buzz remained at a fizzle. Having a name that's hard to Google prolly didn't help the cause.

For reasons unknown, it's looking like P:ano is no more. Three quarters of it are now focusing their offbeat energy on No Kids, namely jacks-of-all-trades Julia Chirka and Justin Kellam, along with singer-songwriter Nick Krgovich. The gambit is paying off. They've matured immeasurably as musicians and human beings over the last couple years. Sensing this, they quickly signed to Tomlab (home of The Books and Xiu Xiu) for the release of their debut.

Brigadoon was a thoroughly quirky, ramshackle indie affair. It was equal parts Brian Wilson's Smile and Danielson's Ships, full of dense, upbeat melodies, bright vocals, and charming lyrics. Come Into My House, on the other hand, is decidedly more serious and composed. Falsetto vocals and the odd bit of chipper, tweeting instrumentation still appear, but the focus is not so much on avant-garde indie pop rocks but contemporary R&B, international folk, and even a little country.

Lead single "For Halloween" benefits from a punchy piano-led progression into its three-part harmony chorus. This is underpinned by a phat bassline driving the warmth of what's essentially a minimal hip-hop drumbeat and busy synthetic woodblock percussion. "The Beaches All Closed" sounds like Remy Shand covering Usher. It's got all the faux clapping, liquid bass you can handle, offset by more elegant piano and layered violin. "I Love The Weekend" takes the piano along to a Brazilian forró parade with festive flutes and marching band drumming. Yet, no matter how falsetto the vocals get, the album never approaches the level of Brian Wilson that Brigadoon thrived in. The production value has shifted to a clean, late 1970s sheen, allowing Krgovich's songwriting prowess to be present and accounted for.

Come Into My House is doing its own thing. Personally, I don't find their slicker, newer influences as compelling as the pseudo 1960s idealism that made me fall in love with P:ano's latter output, but that's my cross to bear. The fact of the matter is, despite lesser numbers, they have demonstrated progression as artists. In time, I'm sure this album will earn the cult status so deserving of Brigadoon. This kind of accessible quirkiness always finds a way into even the most callous of hearts.

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