Album Review :: Wares :: Survival

by Olivia Michalczuk

Collaged together with undying bop power, Edmonton based Wares’ album Survival, has already garnered national praise. One of 40 albums nominated for the Polaris Music Prize Longlist, the ten song album is lyrically devastating and compositionally stirring. 

Survival opens with messy punk and power rock chords which slim down for a synthy power pop anthemic tune. The first two tracks prepare you for the album to take any direction. The front half of Survival feels like an expertly curated compilation album. 

An interesting quality of the album is that the songs are written in plain language, though selecting particularly powerful words and phrases that swirl and meld into the tune that make them feel exceptionally impactful. The impressiveness lies within the arrangement of words rather than the vastness of vocabulary, which creates a pillow for impact of hard hitting lyrical punches.

“Tall Girl” is a painful story, specific enough for ambiguity, though providing the appropriate imagery to cut to deep painful places in your own life. The album is emotionally exhausting, and plays on nesting into your body through familiar and nostalgic synth and punk sounds, once inside eating at painful aspects of life, growing up, feeling alone, misunderstandings, and misdirection. “Living Proof,” for example, displays the powerful and crushing storytelling ability of vocalist Cassia Hardy, which sonically could be featured on the Stranger Things soundtrack. 

“Tether” presents us with a dream pop tune that spirals into chaos, which often does, and in this case, comes off as gimmicky and leads you to a song that is, compared to the rest of the album, unexceptional, but do not fret and stick with Survival. “Jenny Says” follows, which is an album highlight and a gorgeous stand alone song, though another emotional doozie. 

Survival doesn’t give you a break from painful experiences, much like life in some instances, though lyrically exploring some of the ups that come with the downs would round out the album, rather than just exploring positive emotionality with strictly instrumentation. It seems Survival is trying to have a song for everyone on the album, though their strength in specificity and storytelling would be interesting to see with lyricism equally as upbeat and exciting as the music itself. 

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