PS I Love You are a scrappy, garage-rock duo from a mid-level Ontario city that bang out jaunty, lumbering tunes with varying levels of aspiration. Originally released back in October, Meet Me At The Muster Station is boisterous, charming, and at times a fledgling shout for underdog supremacy; Frontman Paul Saulnier sings (or yelps) like he’s got a lot on his mind, his guitar occasionally diverges to eyebrow-raising stadium-solo theatrics – occasionally comes together like a full-hearted plea for spirited recognition.
But at their foundation the band thrive on bear-hug rock. The post-release traction and attention they’ve been given seems to outweigh the instinctive sincerity that their record was born from.
The easiest comparison is probably fellow Canadians Wolf Parade, which naturally has a lot to do with Saulnier’s apocalyptic howl sounding almost uncannily similar to Dan Boeckner’s famous squall. Like Boeckner’s newest and most ferocious tracks, PS I Love You is primarily concerned with rocketing through brazen jams.
But while many bands try the same thing, and replace songwriting with goodhearted, if misplaced, exuberance, Meet Me At The Muster Station maintains a strongly rooted pop awareness, resulting in variegated overachievement, while retaining the band’s palatable kick-down joy, common to themselves and their contemporaries. A song like 2012 is a superficially straightforward barrage; with a shabby mix and a distant, wordless bellow replacing a chorus – but it refuses to be pegged that easily. Under closer examination, several multi-tracked guitars zoom by, Benjamin Nelson’s drums are continually morphing, and a throwaway respite – where Saulnier’s spindled guitar matches his taut vocals – becomes an undeniable stroke of genius. This craftsmanship might not be immediately apparent on all the songs, but it plays a major part in what distinguishes the modest proportions of the duo.
There’s plenty of feel-good music on Meet Me At The Muster Station too – the bulk of the tracks don’t require a magnifying glass, and it’s easy to drift along with the undemanding jaunt of Little Spoon or the title track without resorting to scrutinizing. The theorist discussions of PS I Love You’s ingredients serve more to why the band ‘works’ rather than why they deserve attention. There’s a very low barrier of entry here; the core is still a half-hour fuzz-rock record, and given the general influx of other bands embracing that aesthetic in recent years, you get the creeping sense that the duo might be fighting upstream.
But that doesn’t change the simple truth that, despite the inevitable generalizations they’ll be lumped with, very few groups within the globalized garage scene sound like PS I Love You. They’ve found a distinct and not easily defined formula that they own; one that will certainly be interesting to watch it develop and generate in the coming years.