'Tonight, I'll be a saint. I wish I could be someone like them.'
The opening line of The Sweetness Restored, the second full-length release from Canadian indie shoegaze/dream pop band Crystal Eyes, displays a kind of wistful self-awareness right from the start. Described by the band as a 'feel-good self-help record for the age of existential dread,' The Sweetness Restored is a collection of 10 tracks that flirt with musical influences ranging from new wave, 60's psych-rock and 90's shoegaze, with songs driven by melody and steeped in texture.
One of the record's highlights is it's occasional featuring of the ghostly theravox, a touch-controlled theremin proudly made in Windsor, Ontario. In fact, all of the songs regularly mix instruments of different eras and styles - the Hammond C3 with Leslie speakers, a string quartet, a choir, an out-of-tune piano, analogue synthesizers and many kinds of affect-drenched guitars. All of the contrasts and layers meld together to form a complex and yet stripped-down record.
Inspired in equal parts by the streets of Montreal (The Sweetness Restored being a lyrical reference from Leonard Cohen's final album 'You Want it Darker') to the mountains, forests and lakes of nature at its most free, there is both a kind of quiet sadness and a frenzied rock 'n' roll urge that ebbs and flows throughout.
Recorded at Montreal's Breakglass Studios, The Sweetness Restored contains thoughtful attention to musical detail thanks to the talented team of artists behind the project. And with the beautiful, warm tones of the Neve console, it's at once a unique sound, but one that feels comfortingly familiar.
Produced and engineered by Andrew Woods, the enigmatic artist behind Legal Vertigo who has engineered previous records for acts like The Operators , and with darling powerhouse Basia Bulat providing assistant production support (and some back up vocals!), the production work is thoughtful, unique and packed with emotion throughout. The prolific Scott' Monty' Munroe (Preoccupations, Chad VanGaalen) contributed the excellent bass playing and the talented Eve Parker Finley composed and performed string arrangements.
The bulk of recording took place over about ten days in Montreal, with the group hunkering down together in the studio shortly before the world would shut down in the spring of 2020. 'That was such a creatively fulfilling time and one of the most truly exceptional artistic experiences I have had,' says Crystal Eyes founder and vocalist/guitarist Erin Jenkins. 'There was a lot of laughter, some moments of sheer exhaustion, and so much artistic generosity and spirit poured into every ounce of the recording. When you listen, imagine us giggling and dancing in the studio as we gleefully recall our musical heroes. This album represents everything I have learnt (so far) about the meaning of life and music'.
The record was mixed by Mark Lawson, a Grammy-Award-winning engineer/producer who has worked with the likes of Arcade Fire, The Unicorns and Peter Gabriel. Mark lent his masterful touch to balancing the disparate layers of tones and textures into a cohesive sound.
On the first single, WISHES, the band serves up a happy/sad vibe you can dance to, complete with a trippy rock 'n' roll fairy tale music video that's somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz. Other planned singles include the Cure-Esque banger A DREAM I HAD and the organ-dipped Sharon van Etten ringer, LIKE A MOVIE.
Additional stand-out moments include the Joy Division poppy/post punk sound of DON'T TURN AROUND, the mysterious FOR CAROLE poem about the 'strange ghosts of ourselves' we can't follow, a guitar-solo worthy of The Velvet Underground on 2,000 YEARS or the album closer NO HEAVEN, an epic journey that would speak equally to fans of Lana del Rey or Chris Isaak.
With live music finally resurfacing, Crystal Eyes are ready to release The Sweetness Restored on Madrid-based label Bobo Integral. Having put out a previous EP, a full-length and a split with Edmonton's Marlaena's Moore since forming in 2016, Crystal Eyes have thrived in a supportive cross-Canadian music scene, drawing on a vast array of influences and collaborations while honing their live show through multiple tours and as consistent hometown favourites.
Ultimately, The Sweetness Restored is a spiritual act of the creative process, the delicate but renewing relationship between the dream and reality. It gently reminds us, there will be loss, but we always have the promise of a new day.
released April 22, 2022
Produced/Engineered by Andrew Woods
Assistant Producer - Basia Bulat
Assistant Engineer - Alex Casey
Mixed by Mark Lawson
Mastered by Harris Newman, Grey Market Mastering
Album Art by Walter E. Neuman
Album Design by Joleen Toner
Erin Jenkins (vocals and guitar)
Jordan Tettensor (guitar)
Scott ‘Monty’ Munroe (bass, synth)
Joleen Toner (synth, theravox, organ)
Kenny Murdoch (drums)
Eve Parker Finley (string arrangements, violin, cello)
Zou zou Robidoux (cello)
Owen Fairbairn (violin)
Basia Bulat (back up vocals on 'I Still Believe in Love')
Andrew Woods (additional instrumentation, percussion)
Hermitess and her Witch Choir (additional harp and vocals on 'No Heaven')
Jennifer Crighton, Melyssa Nielsen, Amanda Bassi, Joleen Toner
All songs by Crystal Eyes with Jordan Tettensor, Kenny Murdoch, Andy Flegel, Joleen Toner, Will Johnson.
Recorded at Breakglass Studios, Montreal, QC. Special thanks to Jace Lasek.
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Remember how Bill Murray woke up to I Got You Babe every day in Groundhog Day? If that song would have been Made Of Moods, he at the very least experienced three and a half perfect minutes each day. It’s one of those songs that I enjoy each and every second of, with it’s jangly guitars and hushed vocals that almost have a Beach Boys vibe, especially in the verse. Truly, it’s a song for the ages. But the best news about Still Life is that it offers eleven additional underground pop gems. Niek || Add To Wantlist