Audio Mixer: Gord Nicholl.
Recording information: Paramount, Palomar and Braineater Studios.
Photographers: Richard Chapman; Adam PW Smith; Susanne Tabato; Dan Harbord; Vincent Kuan; Veronica Palmer-Jones; Tsuneglam Sam.
When you've been making records since 1979, there isn't much to be gained by pretending to be a young buck in 2015, and Vancouver new wave legends the Pointed Sticks are far too smart to try. The cover of the group's self-titled album -- surprisingly, only their third proper studio set in over 35 years -- makes no effort to disguise the passage of time, portraying five guys in late middle age who look hipper than most in their age group but are clearly aware they don't have anything to do with youth culture anymore. And in a good way, that reflects the sound of the album inside; featuring the group's classic lineup of Nick Jones on vocals, Bill Napier-Hemy on guitar, Gord Nicholl on keys, Tony Bardach on bass, and Ian Tiles on drums, Pointed Sticks is as clever and as tuneful as the band's classic recordings of the '80s, and with much of the same lyrical edge. But the punky undertow of the music has smoothed out a bit as the tempos have been dialed back to a pace befitting men in their late fifties, and the results suggest a midpoint between '60s garage rock and vintage U.K. pub rock. The Pointed Sticks haven't lost touch with their core virtues -- the bandmembers sound tight and they interact with one another very well indeed, while Jones is in strong voice, and the Sticks' way with a hook, always their strongest virtue, is very much in evidence. But this is a more mature version of the Pointed Sticks, playing more like witty but self-aware rock & roll lifers who've seen more than their share than young upstarts eager to get in your face, and the vibe suits them well, as well as the honestly heartfelt tone of numbers like "Simply Nothing" and "Yesterday's Girl." And if they're still singing about their problems with the opposite sex after all these years, "Impatient" at least makes it clear they prefer women who are grown-ups and behave that way. The Pointed Sticks aren't trying to reclaim their lost youth on this album; they sound very much at home in their skin as they've let their music grow up with them, and these songs confirm they're still a lot of fun to hang out with a few decades on. ~ Mark Deming