welkin - strangers & exiles (independent)

2005.02.24 :: the georgia straight

by kevin howes

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Welkin's third album is its most ambitious to date. Although the inner-sleeve band photo makes the group look like Granville Street yahoos out for kicks and chicks, the disc is extremely professional and more than competent-sounding. Printed lyrics and immaculate artwork from painter Chris Mackenzie scream for the LP-jacket treatment.

Musically, Strangers & Exiles is traditional Can-Con fare that recalls the more reaching moments from the Northern Pikes' Show in June. That's not an insult, by the way. Songwriter, guitarist, and singer Geoff Birch has an extraordinary vocal range that wears occasional influences. Radiohead, the Flaming Lips, and U2 loom over the proceedings at times which is a shame because Birch, bassist Mark Christianson, and drummer Chad Bjorgan clearly have the skill to take their music to new places.

Clocking in at an epic 8 minutes and 57 seconds, the atrociously named "Veins You're So Beautiful You're In My..." proves that the band has mastered Song Structure 101, but with all 12 tracks taking a similar approach (a quiet/loud structure with lots of background dynamics), everything begins to sound a little MOR.

Welkin appear to take inspiration from our lush local surroundings; evident in the band's atmospheric instrumentation and Birch's nature-inspired lyrics, that's the group's most appealing quality.

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