From the outset, I knew something was off. Listening to Black Market Hard Tack’s new album through tinny computer speakers wasn’t doing it justice. Moving onto my usually reliable 3 piece setup still lacked that singular essence. Deadlines be damned – I know I’m selling myself short by ignoring the tape resurgence. Because the medium is the message. And this message is crafted with that authentic dry warmth of cassettes at its core.

So as both a disclaimer and advice: don’t make the same mistake I did. Buy the tape and get the pseudo-analog experience that this album begs for.

If you can’t, just listen.

Black Market Hard Tack have oddly gyrated their way into the circle of St. John’s standards. It’s sporadic, off-kilter art rock, tinged structured with drum machines, washed in synths, and slammed with a brand of poetry that lies somewhere between eccentric and beautiful nonsense.

But what does that even mean? What does it sound like?

Well, it’s a surprisingly polished ruckus that steals the best bits of dive bar punk, soft shelled 80s synths (there’s a keytar), and transmutes them into a neon soaked backyard rave that beckons you to dance.

Except for a few instances of trading lines, the dual pronged approach to lead vocals adds a lot of character to the experience. Two perspectives on the same words in singsong yells just equals some kind of measured chaos.

It’s a monument to creativity – another instance where some of the most innovative and unique work in St. John’s is being crafted on the fringes of the music scene. With all its oddities, its rough and tumble glamour and rough around the edges charm, it has become one of my favourite local releases this year.