Around this time, the summer haze is in full swing as the air seems to spice itself even more with the warmth of the sun, and no one really feels like doing anything other than laying around pool or beach-side or venturing off to another fond summer memory waiting to be had. This is one of my favourite times of the year because the instinct of spontaneity kicks in and our eyes are once again widened in fully experiencing the beauty of things. We’ve long forgotten what it was like to live on a rigid schedule, and we are open to living as it happens around us, like particles bobbing along to the tide. I have the perfect album to soundtrack these fleeting joys and open-ended days.
The first time I listened to this album, it was the dead of winter, which, here in Montreal means snow to your waist, -40 degrees Celsius on average, frozen nose hairs, and dark afternoons. My friend had shown it to me, and despite the frigid state of the world around me, listening to this album warmed me internally and I could almost feel the sun in my hair, and the scent of damp earth and pine looming. It was as if The Slideshow Effect had always been there to capture all of my summers, an auditory photo album to evoke nostalgia whenever opened.
So today, I want to share this treasured favourite with you, dear reader, so you can take it with you on all tomorrow’s (summer) parties. It can go by easily unnoticed, but is such a gem to rediscover in your music library. This is not one you will never want to forget.
There are a lot of bright moments on this album to balance out the echoing haunts that call out to us from tracks like “Little Expressionless Animals”, the opener. Of course, these hauntingly bare tones are just as beautiful as the full and boisterous ones, however it is the rare workable combination of the two that Memoryhouse has successfully accomplished in pulling their debut album together and making it individual. In terms of the creative process, the group starts with a visual base in looking at photographs and silent films taken by the vocalist, Denise Nouvion, and builds a musical base from there. Maybe this is the reason for the album’s success in sounding like a visual photo collection, however the original intent of this Canadian duo was to bridge the gap between visual and audio landscapes and combine them in synchronization and harmonious flux.
In terms of instrumentation, The Slideshow Effect is pretty diverse when taking into consideration what they set out to achieve musically. Though they may not range on the experimental, the swooning strings, sprightly glockenspiel, and synth-y keyboards add the perfect complement to the traditional drums, guitar and vocals lineup (although the drums are wonderfully varied as well). And speaking of traditional instrumentation, I’m just going to fawn over the guitar harmonies forever. Standing very much in their own independence as an instrument, they still provide a beautiful balance to showcase Denise’s vocals (which melt me away) and share the spotlight with the other instruments on the album. And they are just forever lovely. I find that since delving into guitar more seriously, I notice the guitar parts on the songs I listen to much more than I would otherwise. That said, I always drooled over the guitar on this album, even before I knew anything about arpeggios and pentatonic scales. The lyrics are downright adorable as well (“let’s get cold together”), as an added charm.
So, we have come to the end and I have nothing more to say, because I think the rest should be yours to discover. That said, I leave you with this little glistening jewel of an album, and I hope you take care to let it open the door to your own summer nostalgia. Ignore the looming fall commitments for the time being and never underestimate what great music can do.
Keep an ear out for: “The Kids Were Wrong”, “Punctum”, “All Our Wonder”, and “Bonfire”.
Happy soundscaping to all of you voyageurs, beach loungers, and party rats.