As the auditory equivalent of an artist who violently throws their colours against a canvas instead of patiently brushing them on, Eliza will not be everyone’s cup of tea. For those with a taste for the zanier side of things, this 11-song LP will be a wacky good time.
Hailing from Montreal, Eliza’s first full-length release is called Oootch and, as the title suggests, this band does not play by the rules. I, for one, am a big fan of songwriting done in the classical way (where verses follow choruses and so on). Call me old fashioned, but there is a structure to music that has worked for hundreds of years, and will always be pleasing to the ears. That being said, this group of five musicians manages to throw the rule book out the window, and still make something cohesive and enjoyable.
As I first started to listen, I hard a hard time understanding what the heck was going on. Album opener, “Oootchh” is an up-and-down roller coaster of noise/garage rock with heavily distorted vocals. After a few listens, the picture grew clearer and the melodies started to stick in my head. “She Is God” dives into a Muse-like synth, thick rock groove only to be followed by “Jitterbug;” a more indie-rock number with some funky rhythms.
The band manages to balance the noise with some softer sections brilliantly so the listener is never overwhelmed and is always interested as to what may come next. “TK’s Track” is a stripped down, more straight-forward, minor-key rocker that has a haunting verse section which serves as a prelude to the heavy chorus where lead singer, David Marchand’s vocals are pushed back to a distant, reverb-drenched shout. “Suonish” has a similar vibe as the aforementioned track, but the band chose to exercise some restraint and opt for a more melodic instrumental section rather than the expected loud, noisy chorus. Eliza is more than just a juxtaposition of soft and loud sections as demonstrated in “All I Am (Elize’s)” with its beautiful choir-like harmony section that follows a driving crescendo inducing verse; it is a standout track.
As is often the case with a band as eclectic as Eliza, some ‘listener-fatigue’ is almost inevitable because there is so much to take in; it is very hard to appreciate the album as a whole in one listen. Additionally, the vocals are heavily filtered throughout the whole record and it would have been nice to have some sections that featured Marchand’s voice in a clear setting to change things up. Production-wise, the album is masterfully mixed. It would be a nightmare scenario for a less talented producer to have to put together this varied palette of sounds, but Jean-Bruno Pinard and Phil Cengarle from Planet Studio have done an exceptional job with this record.
Eliza is not a mainstream audience band; they are loaded with talent and some truly original musical ideas. If you have a taste for the eclectic, and are thirsty for something different, then Oootchh is a very well executed piece of musical expression.
Written by Ben Massicotte
*edited by Danielle Kenedy