Audio Mixers: Alex Bonenfant; Dave Plowman .
Recording information: Soulsound.
Photographers: Chris Graham ; Michael Dawson.
Saskatchewan indie pop outfit Library Voices have had their share of growing pains in their seven years together, though most of them have occurred off the record. Overcoming a myriad of mishaps -- like gear theft, flood-damaged backup equipment, muggings, and a brutal assault of frontman Carl Johnson -- has become an involuntary thread in the band's personal narrative, even if their music has generally remained upbeat and witty. After two well-received LPs of exuberant and often lushly arranged pop, they shook up their format with 2014's fuzzy, lo-fi EP For John. Whether this darker tone was a direct result of Johnson's brain damage-inducing assault (blood pooled in the front of his brain, affecting his sense of smell) and difficult recovery or the band was simply ready to evolve, Library Voices challenged their fans with an unfamiliar new sound. Lovish, their third LP, strikes a bit more balance between the old and new, offering glimpses of the joyous, wry popcraft of their earlier work as well as some moodier tracks and even outright experimental ones. Darkly exultant lead single "Oh Donna" frames Library Voices' big group harmonies and rich melodies into a more standard guitar band format than before. With the subdued but sleek synth ballad "Sunburnt in L.A.," they almost resemble the mature pop of fellow Canadians Stars. In fact, parts of Lovish mine a territory similar to big-ensembled Canadian indie forebears like Broken Social Scene and the New Pornographers in the way they mix thoughtful songcraft, big group harmonies, light synths, and a carefully fuzzy veneer. The addition of powerful, honking saxophones, especially on the standout cut "Zzyzx," gives parts of Lovish a bold attitude, and even if the overall LP comes across as a bit too uneven, Library Voices made the right move in trying to stretch their wings and shake things up. ~ Timothy Monger