The Rural Alberta Advantage
Departing - Saddle Creek
FILTER Grade: 85%
By Marissa Moss on March 8, 2011
If you name yourself “The Rural Alberta Advantage,” you better be damn well prepared for people to constantly inquire as to just what it is about a windy, freezing tundra that gives a considerable leg up. Previously, on the excellent Hometowns, it was a rawness that came from a place beyond frostbite, capturing a collection of songs united in that tender yet painful feeling of home—a home with both sweet and sour memories. On Departing, there’s no lack of that rawness or emotion, and the crippling nostalgia still reverberates throughout. The (disadvantageous) musical references are impossible to shake—Neutral Milk Hotel on the fervent “Two Lovers” and Smashing Pumpkins on “North Star.” But on songs like “Barnes’ Yard” and “Under the Knife,” the band shines in its own ability to blend pared-down composition with fast-paced percussion and lyrics that could only come from, well, rural Alberta. And proven best at the end (“Good Night”), resounding with sparse, solemn vocals as a lullaby drenched in grown-up tears.