Personnel: Alexa Dirks (vocals); Hannah Epperson, Meredith McCallum (violin); Dan Ardies (baritone saxophone); Simon Christie (trumpet); Todd Martin (French horn); Joel Green (trombone); Steve Oberheu (sousaphone).
Recording information: Parkinson Cabin, Lac du Bonnet, MB; Private Ear Studios, Winnipeg, MB; The Sea Life's Party House, Washington, DC; The Shithole, Winnipeg, MB.
Artful Canadian popsmiths Royal Canoe follow up their Juno-nominated breakout, Today We're Believers, with the ambitious Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit. The Winnipeg group's stakes are certainly higher with the increased exposure they've received over the three preceding years, and their already meticulous approach has been further honed here by co-producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley), whose efforts support their genre-hopping, highly rhythmic approach. With its skittering beats and rapid-fire vocals, album opener "Somersault" is a brainy and undeniably hooky example of the sextet's sophisticated approach. Several of the tracks that follow take a slightly more subdued tack, with frontman Matt Peters weaving his easy falsetto around fussy beats and sampled smatterings on "Walk Out on the Water" and the pseudo-synthetic soul of "Checkmate." The group's affection for Midnight Vultures-era Beck manifests itself on the playful neon R&B/rap of "Love You Like That." "Out of the Beehive" is a late-album highlight representing the best of what Royal Canoe have to offer, marrying their polyrhythmic tendencies with a warm melodicism that still feels inventive without working overtime to impress. ~ Timothy Monger