Music Picks

Somebody Get Eno On the Phone!

Way to Go, Einstein is making pristine pop for grown-ups.

By Adrian Mack 28 May 2009 | TheTyee.ca

Adrian Mack contributes a regular music column to The Tyee.

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You organized a photoshoot in front of a vintage rural port-o-john? Way to go, Einstein.

If you hadn't noticed yet, Vancouver has the world's ear right now. It’s not that there’s a sudden surplus of talent -- Vangroovy’s coming out ball is the result of events starting somewhere around the time the New Pornographers busted down the walls that Cub, Copyright, or Carl Newman’s previous band Zumpano couldn’t quite scale back in the ‘90s, despite critical hosannas and hipster cred.

Back then, thanks partly to its geographical quarantine from the business centres of ye olde music racket out east, Vancouver barely stood a chance. The internets and concurrent death twitches of the music industry changed all that, our hometown came out on top, and barely a day goes by without some Vancouver outfit or another making splash page news.

That’s no reason to relax, however. For every new weird punk underground getting its 7-inches tickled in Exclaim!, there’s a dozen great acts still doing their thing on the outer circles. Say hello, Way to Go, Einstein; a handsome five-piece trafficking in the kind of brimming adult pop that was invented -- depending on your prejudice -- by either Jeff Buckley or Radiohead around the time of The Bends, and which eventually put the clown-Prince of fake plastic cheese Chris Martin and his solemn band of boobs Coldplay in Hollywood mansions.

Allow me to go out on a limb and say that if I want a dose of melancholy rapture, sparkling production, and a surging chorus that takes its sweet time to bring me to headphone apotheosis (two minutes and 11 seconds, in this case), I’ll take Way to Go, Einstein’s “The Flood” over any of the droopy nonsense on Viva La Vida.

Not to get side-tracked. Way to Go, Einstein’s second album Pseudonym was released in March to the chirping of crickets, immense quality notwithstanding, probably because it isn’t avant-noize, fake jazz, or hirsute Mount Pleasant retro -- the three faces of this season’s Vancouver Special to the rest of the world.

But Way to Go, Einstein is sitting on a sleeper with its new album. While the rest of Pseudonym is no less pristine, huge, or international sounding as that opening track, WTGE also changes the backdrop on its big emotions to fashion grown-up alt rock into something it can call its own -- skittish verses preface the wailing guitar choruses of “Shiver in the Sun”; “Everywhere You Turn” introduces almost-flamenco guitar to a 7/4 time signature; “Parallax” is Andrew Carter’s beatific vocals above, and uptight, quasi-NIN distortion below. It’s the album you might expect from a band that lists Sigur Rós as an influence, along with “contradictions” and “childhood obesity”.

Way to Go, Einstein holds its album release party with two other outstanding if not quite Pitchforked (yet) local bands, Fake Shark! Real Zombie! and Junior Major, at the Biltmore Cabaret (395 Kingsway), tomorrow (May 28).

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