sheer-agony

Sheer Agony come off as one of those bands that are very much a product of their environment – if this debut album is anything to go by. On the cheekily-titled ‘Masterpiece’, they’ve condensed the sounds that have been de rigueur in their native Montreal these past couple of years and melded them with their own brand of power pop; you can hear the psych swirl of No Joy and post-punk snarl of Ought wrapped up in a breathless succession of freewheeling guitar tracks. Lead single ‘I Have a Dream’ only just stretches past ninety seconds, but acts as the record itself in microcosm, squealing riffs laid over a familiar lo-fi template.

There’s room for experimentation, too, and the languid, melodic guitar on ‘So Many Zoes’ is a case in point, while the gentle acoustic chamber pop of ‘Literary Arts’ recalls early Shins.

Key to the album’s versatility is Jackson McIntosh’s flexible vocal approach; he flits between loping misery (‘Careers’) and playful deadpan (‘I Used to Be Darker’) in convincing fashion. Sheer Agony have by no means reinvented the wheel with ‘Masterpiece’ (and no, it isn’t one), but they have carved out their own little niche in a crowded local scene. Given the plethora of offbeat guitar bands that have spilled out of Montreal in recent years, that’s no mean feat.

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