Recording information: L.A.; Montreal.
Slightly more produced, yet no less ragged than their 2012 debut Appetite, Canadian duo Walter TV's sophomore LP Blessed is a pastiche of tone-bright art-pop and lo-fi garage slack. The band originated as a trio in Vancouver, but eventually headed east to Montreal where core members Pierce McGarry and Joseph McMurray recorded Appetite at an apartment they shared with Mac Demarco. In the years between Appetite's release and the making of Blessed, the two musicians also served as DeMarco's touring rhythm section, and their close association with the singer/songwriter has led to frequent comparisons in sound and style. While it's true that Walter TV's fluttering, four-track psych romps share certain similarities with DeMarco's woozy stoner pop, they continue to cut their own path on the ten-song Blessed. The ample tape hiss, stick-click count-offs, loose outros, and overall homemade nature of the recording belies the detailed song construction on standout tracks like "Candles," "Walter's Kaya," and the roughshod but clever "Fan." The vocals are almost uniformly processed through some type of chorus effect, giving McGarry's falsetto vocal stylings an eerie, warbling timbre. Similarly, the guitars have a sharp bite that wavers between shimmery and shrill. In fact, the all-consuming lo-fi aesthetic almost feels like a third bandmember and at its most severely employed, can either come off as charming ("Paranormal Witness") or just irritating ("Punk Song"). Ultimately, Walter TV seem to take themselves seriously enough to write some interesting and artfully hooky pop songs, though their ramshackle presentation demands that listener will have to put up with their intentionally raw shenanigans in order to enjoy them. ~ Timothy Monger