Torquil Campbell is a busy man. Best known as one of the leaders of Toronto based indie popsters Stars, he also released a solo album under the name Dead Child Star at the beginning of the year. And I haven't even mentioned his work with Broken Social Scene. Now, here is his new album with Chris Dumont, as part of the duo Memphis. I was highly disappointed in Stars' last release, 2010's "The Five Ghosts", and this makes up for it as it is a superior album.
"Here Comes A City" still ventures in many of the same territories Campbell's work with Stars does. There are plenty of melodic pop moments, along with a heavy emphasis on electronics mixed in with the standard guitars, bass, keys and drums. But this is a much more focused album than "The Five Ghosts" was as it's basically the album I was hoping that would be.
The uptempo, celebratory nature of "Apocalypse Pop Song" revels in the fact 'it's the end of the world today!', while "I Want The Lights On After Dark" carries with it a certain bit of paranoia, showing even if these may sound like sunny pop tracks, the subject matter is far from it.
The album really kicks into high gear in its second half, starting with the fantastic "What is This Thing Called?", a darker track musically, but no less accessible and memorable. Diving into relationship territory, things are kept equally dark on "Wait!" which has verses detailing how 'you were the only one' before a dreamy chorus of 'I don't love you anymore' shatters that illusion. "Way Past Caring" is pretty self explanatory, another exploration of a relationship falling apart. Stunning in its uniqueness to the rest of the album is "Reservoir", an over seven minute ambient instrumental piece. It's quite gorgeous, with Dumont's guitar work leading the way over drum machine beats and electronic soundscapes.
"Here Comes A City" is full of melodies and beauty, but underneath that surface something darker lurks. A very mature, often times heavy and sobering look at life and love, and another of 2011's highlights.
"Here Comes A City" was released in The U.S. March 8, 2011 on the Arts & Crafts label.