PS I Love You PS I Love YouMeet Me At The Muster Station
The vast majority of the bands that Canada has given us in recent years are defined by their temperament, by the ferocious way that they have of airing their unease. Whether they tend towards the multi-instrumental, or share the more strictly 80’s affinity of American indie, the strength of the faction led by Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene has made a talent mine of the country. This is shown by the Polaris Music Prize, an award given to the best music from there, and amongst the candidates this year we find several of the albums of the moment (although nobody seems to know the 2010 winner, Karkwa, yet). In PS I Love You we have the new gold nugget to be extracted from Canadian territory. They hail from Kingston and are two white-hot musicians with a penchant for making noise and doing a good job. The vocalist Paul Saulnier and drummer Benjamin Nelson are also examples when it comes to revalidating another constant in recent rock: a duo can make enough sound for five people. As far as this goes, one of the first names that come to mind is that of their fellow countrymen, the equally devastating Japandroids.
PS I Love You came out with the title of two historical songs, one by Johnny Mercer and the other by Paul McCartney, although their indie-grunge on the verge of a nervous breakdown has nothing to do with either the compositional genius of Georgia or the embalmed forefather of British pop. It’s enough to see the packaging of the debut LP to get an idea of what is waiting for us inside: the cover dotted with snow warns of the blizzard that is approaching, something like “gather at the meeting point in case of emergency” –which is, by the way, a line from the equally crazy psych group Super Furry Animals– announces urgency and the need to seek refuge. Everything fits with those orders once “Meet Me at the Muster Station” starts to play. Bitter bile served up with a runaway expressiveness based on barks and insults. An expressiveness that, all told, cannot hide what the group has buried in the depths of their songs: romanticism. The bloody poetry of “Facelov” makes it clear, the song that gave them their fifteen minutes of fame in the blog galaxy, from that split released with the other Canadian surprise of the moment, Diamond Rings. This might be the best song on the album, and of course it is the best example of the shock therapy proposed by PS I Love You. Fatal attraction with immediate effects.
Based on metal riffs and ceaselessly exploiting the particular conception of the Canadian epic—catastrophic in “2012”, more celebratory in “Get Over”, the music of PS I Love You burns like fire. Saulnier destroys his throat spitting out lyrics that are generally inspired by real characters and friends’ stories. Nelson disputes the starring role from the rearguard, making the guitar and drum continually sound as if they were disputing a final sprint. There is no time for silliness on this dangerous, killer album. It lasts barely thirty minutes, but they are insatiable, furious, and out of ibuprofen. The group works like a time bomb, in spite of some production that’s a bit rushed. Willing to overcome any obstacle, they have learned their tricks from agile, clever bands Pixies or Built To Spill, and the result, a sour, well-tied-up rock, connects equally with the ideas handled by the swollen expressionism of contemporaries like Frog Eyes and Wolf Parade. Nevertheless, the more shameless character of PS I Love You reduces the heavy load to be digested by the ear. Its great skill at handling concepts like urgency and speed keep “Muster” from becoming a torture, as happens sometimes with Frog Eyes, for example. For all of these reasons, its boldness sets you vibrating, and makes you really want to see what they’ll do in their next album. It’s sure to be taller, stronger and better.