For an album recorded in a windowless room, it’s got an awfully sunny sound. It’s shiny, soaked in a pool of analog synths and bright guitars. With sandy, warm grit, it’s balanced by an ethos almost aqueous in essence. It sits on the edge of the beach and welcomes the rising tide. It’s not put off by the chill in the water, nor does it long for the sunbaked shores. Contentment comes from never being fully submerged nor seared.
Patterns of Behaviour is a worthy sequel to It Comes in Waves, one of last year’s breakouts. Captained and once again fully manned by Marcus McLaughlin, there’s a delicate attention to detail that can only originate with focused, singular direction. Toiling over something like this takes dedication that is simultaneously torturous and cathartic.
That being said, there’s a tangible comfort seeping through the record compared to the last. The songs are bolder, the compositions more adventurous. The production, while still raw, has opened up to take advantage of the range of sounds Mclaughlin uses. Almost paradoxically, it’s both understated and opulent. He’s still that introspective and reserved artist, but he’s rightfully gained some confidence. A year of well deserved recognition will do that.
There’s a good chance the nuance of the album will be lost on some. Marcus’ forte definitely lies within the realm of composition. The vocals, almost exclusively multitracked and harmonized, are at times tepid and monotone. There’s intended restraint that lends to the overall vibe, but that lack of dynamism might be offputting to some.
There’s also a lot that will win people over. The wistful poppiness is a deceiving cover for calculated soundscapes that brace the mood into place. They’re all a concerted effort, precise yet grand. There’s a ton of work put into things you’re not supposed to notice, things that subversively colour the sonic space. Magnetic, they blanket the songs with added emotional dimensions.
The album itself has been conceived with care, and is not merely a collection of discordant tracks. It’s an ethic that’s often eschewed nowadays, and something that should be, in my mind, justly recognized. But beyond praising one man’s drive to reflect and create and design and express and improve, there lies a truth: this album is great. It’s an effortless listen, engaging yet sublime.
While definitely awash in the paradigm of modern Canadian indie rock, it innovates and shines bright as a feat for independent Newfoundland artists. One that both arises out of and works to subdue those deprecating creative urges. It sits exactly where it needs to, uses its limits to its advantage. It’s a moonlit meditation for the overworked creative mind.