Royal Canoe: Waver Album Review

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By Katharine Robertson
Music Journalist

Artist: Royal Canoe
Album: Waver
Release Date: January 25, 2019

Royal Canoe is a six-piece band hailing from our northern neighbors in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. On Jan. 25, the band released their fourth full-length album, Waver, following up from their 2016 release: Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit.

Between the two albums, Royal Canoe has done everything from being nominated for a Juno Award (essentially the Canadian Grammys) to touring with Bombay Bicycle Club to opening for Beck. The years between the two albums have shown refinement in their sound which spans across indie pop to funk to rock. Waver takes the listener on a daydream like a journey they soon will not forget.

The album opens with the hazy and dreamlike “What’s Left in the River” and “Black Sea,” both of these songs utilize distorted vocals and instrumentals. These are two of the slower tracks on the album but they show the pure creativity that Royal Canoe holds. These two songs are unique to each other and to every other song on the album. The pace of the tracks and the odd lyrics remind me almost of Glass Animals’ Zaba if it weren’t so jungle themed.

Throughout the album, Royal Canoe features elements on funk here and there; usually just heavier bass and lower pitched instrumentals but the funk and R&B influence really shine through on “Ashes, Ashes,” “Peep This” and “Spin Cycle.”

“Ashes, Ashes” features raps from main vocalist Matt Peters and Chicago-based rapper Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. “Peep This” features heavy bass and deeper instruments while still maintaining that signature distortion that is found in so many of Royal Canoe’s songs. “Peep This” isn’t all funk, it features raw lyrics and vocals that exude desperation. “Spin Cycle” follows with a more upbeat track and melds the funk with rock and the product feels like a late summer day.

As a whole, I believe that Waver is an innovative piece of art while not isolating themselves from those who are not as adventurous with their music selection. Every track on this album sounds different and not like the one before it or the one that follows. The whole of this album sounds effortless (in a good way) and like hazy summer days.

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