When the Winnipeg-based indie pop band known as Royal Canoe released Today We’re Believers, they were largely an unknown force in the Canadian music world. That album put them on the map for a number of reasons: It was unique, it was crafty, it had depth, and it was irresistibly fun. It had such a defining sound that I was left wondering where the band could go from there. For three years I, and many other Royal Canoe Fans, have waited for an answer to that question, and we finally have one. Their third full album of original material, Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit, has everything that we came to love about this band, but steered straight into the darkness of space.
Where Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit differs from its predecessor is in its vastness. Today We’re Believers was packed to the rafters with sound, bombarding the listener with energy. This time around, the members of Royal Canoe have drawn on the genres of R&B and hip-hop. Slower, syncopated drum beats strike with a deliberate precision, allowing the absence of sound between pulses to draw you in to the ambience of space. The layers of synthesizers remain, but there is a much more sparse, delicate interplay between different voices. The result is an album that feels deeper and more laid back. Never fear, the energetic anthems laden with catchy hooks are still there. Songs like “Walk Out on the Water” and “Love You Like That” will stick in your head and refuse to leave, but they are surrounded by songs with a greater diversity of tone.
So we’ve covered space, but what about darkness? Today We’re Believers was largely an uplifting, positive album. Something Got Lost has relinquished some of that enthusiasm, embracing a more minor tone, but the sense of hope is not lost. Not only is it a harmonically sadder record, the darkness is reflected strongly in the lyrics. A song like “I Am Collapsing So Slowly”, one of my early favourites, has a heavy desperation to it. It is weighted with the feeling of a long, ominous descent. Other songs, like “Checkmate”, seem to present a story of hopeful rebirth. The track opens with “Egg white walls peeling off their skin / Oh they know just the spot I’m in”, followed by a rousing chorus of “All my people / We will rise together”.
It may just be because this album is still fresh, but it is the balance of emotion on Something Got Lost that has me thinking that Royal Canoe remains on the rise. Today We’re Believers was a fantastic record, but it really did one thing exceptionally well. Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit sounds like a more mature, more complete album. Darkness and light, tension and release, fun and exploration; these are the contrasts that make this record more than your average collection of songs.
Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit is out now, and Royal Canoe is embarking on a tour to bring these songs to you live. Get the album and go see this band, they will not disappoint you.