This week's pitch has been spoken of in whispers and half-truths throughout the interwebs since even before their debut at 2007's Pop Montreal. Clues-- the newest baby of Alden Penner (via the famous-post-split Unicorns) and Brendon Reed (Arcade Fire)-- has been burning the midnight oil to produce their much-awaited self-titled debut, which hit the airwaves last week on the 19th despite a long-slanted winter 2008 release date. Up until last week everything Clues-related has been shrouded in a veil of mystery that's somewhat to be expected from the ex-Unicorn: unadvertised shows in Montreal lofts, bootlegged recordings floating around message boards, no website, no MySpace, no PR. When I finally saw the pitch for the album in the RFC inbox, squealing was involved.
Nobody can argue that the members of Clues are some of the pioneers of underground Canadian pop, and the debut lives up to the whispered hype. We're seeing music here, people... I got nothing against a good three-chord hook, but this is an elaborate, orchestrated affair, an exercise in concert hall baroque pop. Their sound is frantic, almost schitzophrenic-- cuts are jammed with stop-starts, abrupt hooks, spasms of musical interludes where you can tell they trade off on the menagerie of instruments that freaking pepper this album. It's like listening to a child prodigy in classical music who suffers from ADHD and the kind of introspective nature that makes them stare for quarter-hours at anthills. This is also the kid that daydreams in class, who you're convinced isn't paying attention until you ask a question and the answer is snapped back. The cuts on Clues play like daydreams that snap you answers and then pull back into their own worlds, taking you in with them.