Street Sounds: Loop-loving album a little too forced

Fine Canadian Forces – Hebrew Lessons

Forget the bar mitzvah and Hava Nagila, and check into the quirky and eccentric sound of Fine Canadian Forces debut album, Hebrew Lessons.

The Toronto band (this term used loosely) consists of main man and kitchen sink instrumentalist Jordan Fine, and his band of horn playing cohorts (Gavin Maher, Adam Titcombe, Tim Watson and Ben Yanchyshyn).

The band seems to exist in a non-committed and chirpy soundscape inhabited by musicians akin to Modest Mouse; somewhere between ambient and the garage.

This means that Fine Canadian Forces are definitely left-of centre, beyond alternative musicians who adhere to a “non” esthetic: non-commercial, non-conformist, and nonsensical.

Vocalist Fine favours languid repetition, but to the point of excessive pointlessness. This fits with the experimental and textural side of the music, but leaks over into boring indulgence.

For a 15-song album, this tendency to repeat and ramble in childlike fashion stretches the time too far. Some of Fine’s lyrics are nicely whacked: Glass is a song that describes life from the viewpoint of liquid matter, plants and a window over a choppy looped hook.

This loop-heavy arrangement style is consistent throughout Hebrew Lessons; riffs and hooks being augmented by an array of horns or keyboard.

Eccentricity is rife and is celebrated with FCF’s unexpected take on several well-known cover songs (Higher Love, Jessie’s Girl and Eleanor Rigby). These are given unhurried treatment, and benefit from being cheerfully unalike the original versions.

Yet, the high point of the CD is its briefest tune (Snake Rock).

This track displays a keen sense of modern psychedelia, and its originality is felt most in its unique hook and magical tonality. This makes much of the music sound overlong in comparison.

–– Dean Gordon-Smith writes The Morning Star’s weekly music review, Street Sounds.