In all honesty, it’s a bad band name. But only because it blends in like scenery, it sits there on a poster and stays quiet. It’s like calling your band “Passing Train”, or “The Produce Aisle”, there’s something too bland about it. But to all ye browsers and walkers-by: there is nothing bland about Shapes & Sizes, they sing boldly and with gusto, they write songs like little mysteries, with unexpected plot turns and last-minute characters, they make you want to listen, to stay.
Having moved recently from British Columbia, Shapes & Sizes are now living in Montreal, and have just concurrently released their second album Split Lips, WInning Hips, A Shiner. They’ve put their hooks in the city in time for the weather to change, and one of them has even opened a record shop (apparently). They’re ours now, they will play for us, they will leave and come home to us, we will warm them through the winter in exchange for their roomfuls of percussion, their thick-like-cream-cake guitars, their hungry and lilting vocal drifts.
Take “Alone/Alive”, for instance, the first track on the new album. Caila Thompson-Hannant whips her voice around like a weapon, and unusual time signatures and squonky organ are all part of swirling feeling of keeping something at bay. Keeping the audience at bay, like a lion, us always interested, ferocious yet powerless to its wiles, hypnotized into obedience. I feel this way when I listen to Fiery Furnaces, and I love it.
To quote their “biography”: “Shapes and Sizes wrote the melody that apexes in your brain when you were told for the first time that a tomato was really a fruit and that everything you’ve ever believed with certainty was a lie.” This, I suppose, would be the “melody of science”, and I agree that this is a fitting credential for Shapes & Sizes’ CV. Because science is the pursuit of knowledge about the world through observation and experimentation, I’d agree their songs make use of both of these methods, and, epistemological skepticism aside, attain that very goal. If Split Lips, WInning Hips, A Shiner is a lab report, the conclusion is: the earth is blue, the air breathable, the water drinkable, for now.
AjiSignal is a magazine
about new music in cities.