by Myles Tiessen
As their home country burns (quite literally) and pandemic fatigue ravages the hearts and minds of most Canadians, Toronto-based Ducks LTD. releases, or re-releases, in this case, an album that is powerfully optimistic in the face of emotional and physical decay.
With lyrics that deal with confusion, disappointment, and blatant anger, the sound and overall atmosphere of Get Bleak refuses to surrender to the misanthropic themes present throughout the entire project.
With a jangle-pop quality and a dance-your-heart-out attitude, Get Bleak doesn’t sound as though it belongs in the year 2021. Society as a whole feels far too pessimistic for the sonic positivity captured on these seven tracks. Get Bleak recalls a nostalgic era where dream-pop reigned supreme and optimism filled the airwaves.
Reminiscent of Darklands era The Jesus and Mary Chain, most songs feature disheartening lyrics colliding with ear-worm infecting guitar riffs that simultaneously make you want to lay face down on the floor of your bedroom and run outside, embracing a new and exciting world.
On “Anhedonia,” lead singer Tom Mcgreevy sings, “A shag vision of an anhedonia future means all the cool teens dreams are stasis” before heartbreakingly auctioning off his talents in alienation- “if you’re ever in the mood to disassociate baby, give me a call.”
“Anhedonia” is the band’s strongest song. It features the aforementioned catchy guitar riffs mixed with gloomy lyrics that showcase the band’s non-stop goal to find comfort and peace amid utter despair. The track also features the crown jewel and hallmark of dissolution songwriting by proclaiming, “maybe we should move to the country.” Despite being somewhat of a cliché, the sentiment feels sincere.
Within the isolationist narrative are moments of genuine human connection. “As Big as All Outside” reminds us of how powerful music can be; a woman in the apartment next door sings as the DJ spins a 12 inch. It’s that community that brings the protagonist a much-needed reprieve from hardships. “Let’s settle in under that wave and then let it pull the both of us to sea again,” Mcgreevy sings a melancholic metaphor.
Get Bleak doesn’t necessarily feel uniquely exceptional, and the majority of it sounds familiar. However, it feels like the album came (re-released) when we needed it most. It’s a hopeful reminder of how we can grapple with our sorrow and confusion and learn to ultimately find solace in our despair.