It would be easy for their subtle approach to completely pass the listener by, yet it becomes immediately clear that through all the gentle brushes of colour applied to the production, there are two emotionally charged hearts at the music’s core. For while this might not be an approach that immediately gets the pulse racing, it does nonetheless have an uncanny knack of bringing emotions to the surface.
The Canadian duo also have a talent for using slower house beats to good effect, the sort of backing track you’d consider dancing to in comfy shoes if you weren’t also busy admiring the songwriting. When they do up the tempo they sound like a cross between Prefab Sprout and the Beloved, marrying a thoughtful lyrical approach with dashes of Balearic euphoria.
These songs seem to have been composed in an act of homage to film maker Norman McLaren, which would explain the beautifully delivered lyrics on moving imagery that lift Bits And Pieces to a higher level. “Remember the words, the lighting cues – it’s all to you” urges Jeremy Greenspan, and the response, a soft saxophone, is surprisingly moving in its realisation.
Along this theme, Sneak A Picture goes more intimate still. “Show the lens who you think you are”, urges the vocalist. And then there’s the coda What It’s For, conjuring vivid memories of Scritti Politti in its vocal delivery and soft brushes of electronic colour, another carefully polished gem. The single Hazel, meanwhile, is more upfront with its block chords and punchy beat, but still conveys that strong sense of yearning felt throughout the album.
The acid test for an album such as this is to play it on a grey day and see if it can still work its magic. Begone Dull Care certainly does that, and is all the more remarkable for doing so with only eight tracks to draw on.
You can seemingly approach it either of two ways – the first, an indulgence in a light ’80s nostalgia of production and lyrics, or the second, an enjoyment of the way it gets you thinking of rejuvenating your energy for a night out. Both viewpoints work handsomely – and if you do go out, the record’s still waiting for you when you get back.