Bernice

Puff LP: In the air without a shape

Arts & Crafts

Jun 07, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Awakening from a seven-year dream is a frightening prospect. But for Toronto, Canada dream-pop outfit Bernice, emerging years after their debut album, What Was That, in 2011, that dream serves an inspirational purpose. The new record, entitled Puff LP: In the air without a shape, sounds as elusive as its title suggests, with plenty of the downtempo R&B-meets-electropop for which the group is well known. Frontwoman Robin Dann reflects patiently on childhood memories and her own personal history, while the band slaloms along with sparkling synths and a rhythm section that sounds much more sentient than on Bernice's other material.

But in spite of the subject matterwhich ranges from small boys dressed in suits, to rose gardens, to lunar observationsthe album never gets too nostalgic. Even on more sentimental tracks, the music is at once alive, albeit slightly inaccessible. From the indeterminate clicks and beeps on opening track, "Glue," to the drop on the soaring track "Passenger Plane," this record sounds patient, matured: like a Tune-Yards/Florist blend that's been aged for half a decade.

"He's the Moon" is so textured it almost feels like it could peel off of the album's tracklist and walk around in the Canadian sunshine. "St. Lucia" sounds unpolished, a quality most bands aim to avoid; but for Bernice, that tone is a sought after commodity. The music never sounds unfinished; it sounds more like a living, breathing organism that still has room to grow.

Remarkably short, this "LP" is a compact return to form for Bernice. It might not reach many new listeners, but it certainly is a record of exquisite singularity. In an age where pop music is played loud, fast, and catchy-as-hell, Bernice is actively moving in the opposite direction. (www.bernicemusic.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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