Published Sep 28, 2018Montreal by way of Sweden art rock ensemble Thus Owls drastically up the stakes on their fourth full-length. The Mountain That We Live Upon capitalizes on the creative momentum of their previous EP to catapult them to a new level of sonic distinction. Every element of their songcraft has been honed to serve the band's increasingly unique vision on this release.
While Portishead still echoes as a favourable touchstone, Mountain carves out a path deeper into the progressive psychedelic territory of Pink Floyd and the Savage Rose, marrying superb musicianship and bold experimentation with transcendentally memorable melodicism.
This is due, in large part, to the exquisite chemistry between Erika and Simon Angell and their exceptionally nimble drummer Samuel Joly, but the album's expansive sound wouldn't have been possible without the literal expansion of the lineup to include an additional six performers.
Along with the immpecably mixed bass work of Marc-André Landry and the dramatic bass saxophone and trumpet of Jason Sharp and Emily Strandberg, respectively, is the impressive trio of should-be Canadian legend, Michael Feuerstack with fellow Montreal greats Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream) and Nicolas Basque (Plants and Animals), all on guitar (and none of it redundant).
While it's short on traditionally catchy singles (and thus entry points for inattentive listeners), The Mountain That We Live Upon is a profound complete work, one as towering and majestic as the title suggests. It should go down as a seminal modern art rock album and hopefully help propel Thus Owls to the heights they deserve to inhabit. (Independent)