Three Mile Bend, the debut LP from Montreal’s indie folk group Maybe Greys, is that rare gem that plays well both as relaxing background music and as an engaging compositional study. You may drift out and have it still play while you complete daily tasks and not have it impose on what you’re doing; it is that relaxing. You may tune back in at any point during a song and hear something that piques your interest; it is that textured.
Frontman and mastermind John Hale seems to be equally as adept at writing songs as he is at picking out the right musicians to help bring those songs to life. Check how the keys weave themselves perfectly between David Pearce and Kevin Moquin’s guitar lines on “Set it all On Fire,” and check out standout track “Dolly” for an example of the sweet harmonies between Hale and second vocalist Halle Gyles. Hale’s voice isn’t strong, but it’s soft and oddly comforting. It made me think of that episode of Buffy where the gang finds Rupert Giles – a fictional character who probably bears no relation to this band’s female vocalist – playing a cover of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” at an open mic which they were not supposed to be aware of. His lyrics are also on point. On the anthemic album closer “All the Way Back” he sings, “When I need you most you are here like a ghost; you are with me even though you are not.”
Aside from some mildly interesting pattern changes, I found Scotty Potter’s drum lines to be a little underwhelming, even though there’s nothing explicitly wrong with what he’s playing. The title Three Mile Bend implies that this is a guitar-driven album, and Hale probably advised Potter to play as minimally as possible through the duration of these songs; but with the rich tapestry provided there was certainly more room to play around with Potter’s skill even just a little bit more.
This is a great record. Truly emotional and earnest, it brings the feels in the way our fair city’s modern indie scene has been doing so well over the past few years. Though not recommended for a party or social gathering (unless that social gathering is for the purpose of seeing this band play live, in which case, fly little birdies, fly!), this is definitely the perfect soundtrack to a Sunday spent dreaming of countries vast and lovers past.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited Kate Erickson