The Stills - Logic Will Break Your Heart
Canadian four-piece The Stills' debut album Logic Will Break Your Heart is a rewarding driving-rock collection of strong songs which sound as if they deliberately shy away from the radioplay aesthetic. Before Ryan Adams broke his wrist, they were set to support him at Brixton Academy, and in some respects their debut is Adams' Rock N Roll as if it were to exist in a parallel universe. Whereas Adams effortlessly throws in some instant hooks towards each of his power-ballads, The Stills opt for craft and more of a multi-layered quality.
"We all need to feel secure we're so middle-class, but I'm waiting for next week's chemical blast." These lyrics open the album on Lola Stars And Stripes, and could ultimately describe Logic Will Break Your Heart, in which the music constantly contrasts between headfirst rock and roll and middle-of-the-road professionalism. If The Strokes abandoned the limelight and made more adult music without needing to pander more towards the teens it would sound like The Stills; indeed, some of Tim Fletcher and Greg Paquet's guitar-work delivery is very reminiscent of The Strokes' original Modern Age EP with a slower tempo.
It's hard to select a stand-out track when each song manages to rate at a consistently high level. Ready For It has the most potential as a single most probably because it has the most excitable tempo on the album and some addictive chord-progressions. Changes Are No Good conjures up comparisons with the very best non-anthemic work of Springsteen from the eighties, in which Oliver Crowe's bass drives the melody and the lead guitar is purposefully plodding. What strikes you about Logic Will Break Your Heart is how drenched it is in guitars without giving the impression of over-doing it. Fletcher's fine vocals are still highly prominent in the mix, and his sleepy, almost agonising voice carries the song as if getting to a microphone has been a struggle.
The inspired fade-in of Allison Krausse (apparantly not named after the bluegrass singer as the spelling is slightly different) is one of many guitar highlights to feature on the song, along with fine three-chord guitar riffs and a strong double-tracked vocal from Fletcher. It contrasts nicely with the slow if uplifting follow-up song Animals And Insects, complete with the sudden-realisation of an "Oh My God" chorus, in which the band pull some poignancy from out of their sleeves. There's even an electronica arrangement featured in the backing that wouldn't be out of place on the latest Air record.
Logic Will Break Your Heart is a damn fine record from a band who still have higher places to reach in the musical world. They're good enough for their own headline live slot, and hopefully they will be given it sooner rather than later in the UK, which will mean their profile won't depend on whether Ryan Adams can judge how far the stage extends.