Personnel: Max Desharnais (vocals, guitar, keyboards, drum machine); Sébastien Godin (vocals, guitar); Chance Hutchison (vocals); Jean-Christophe Niquet (drums).
Audio Mixers: Adrian Popovich; Max Desharnais.
Recording information: Mountain City and Sound Salvation Studios.
Photographer: Lyndah Kicks.
Sonic Avenues had a tough act to follow on their fourth album, Disconnector. With their previous record, Mistakes, the Montreal-based punk-meets-pop combo delivered the kind of knockout blow that bands dream about when they are but mere punklings studying their Ramones and Wipers records. It would have been easy for them to try replicating the hooky rawness and rambunctious energy of that album, but they did something a little different. The foursome took their time in the studio to try making an album that added something new to their sound. To that end, they utilized drum machines, acoustic guitars, and keyboards, adding them like spice to the guitar riffs and hard-driving drums while paying special attention to the arrangements and dynamics of each song. Where before they may have leapt into a verse-chorus-verse rocker with both feet, now they take a moment before diving in, maybe to add some keyboard flourishes, maybe to just dial back the energy in favor of something more tightly wound and sparse. They layer sounds and leave spaces in between the notes, where before everything would tumble past like a landslide of power pop. Though this kind of broadening of musical horizons is often a joy-killing death knell for many bands, it's an approach that works here because Sonic Avenues didn't lose any of their knack for a sharp and memorable hook (check "Dead Faces" or "Burn Like Fire" if you have any doubt of that), their flashing guitar work is just as impressive, and vocalist Max Desharnais sounds just as at home in a more structured environment as he did on past records. Disconnector is the sound of a band growing up and stretching out, moving from the simple pleasures of punky power pop to something a little darker, a little more complicated, and a little deeper. The record may not bowl listeners over on the first listen quite the way that Mistakes did, but it's still impressive that initial time and, just as importantly, it's the kind of record that rewards repeated listens with a hard-earned emotional payoff. ~ Tim Sendra