After recently unleashing their synth jazz NNAMDÏ collaboration, ”Scratching Static,” Winnipeg indie pop band Royal Canoe has shown a glimpse of the emotional range to be expected on their forthcoming album, starting with their new single, “Feels Good”.
The track is an altogether more laid back affair, coinciding with our first glimpses of light in a while, both physical and theoretical. According to the band, the song was written last summer when they were dreaming of a time when they could freely navigate the city with friends again in some kind of drunken situationist stupor. As the pandemic continues a year later, the track sounds so sweetly optimistic and naïve that we can’t help but be transported back to those halcyon days. Had the track been written today, I suspect the tone may have been a little less wistful.
“Feels Good” is a beautifully textured, trip-hop tinged trip and a hop through the valley of summer anthems, coming out the other side without stopping. The vocoder melodies which introduce the track are soon usurped by a scuzzy bass and a scurrilous beat from drummer Michael Jordan, who presumably doesn’t want to hear any more jokes about that. Singer Matt Peters soon takes over with a vocal performance which somehow strikes the balance between breezily carefree and deeply mournful, and nails the landing: ”I’m done with the lockdown groaning /Tired of all the braindead searchbar roaming /When did I get so boring? /It’s time to remember how I felt.”
The vocals are complemented by a lazy lounge organ which lures you in with promises of better days, allowing you the luxury of daring to dream, much like the government. Unlike the government, Royal Canoe are only furnished with the same information as the rest of us, and in those conditions hope can flourish. When the track glides into the chorus, the mood lifts instantly and provides a rallying call to all who want a return to “normality”, despite that being a completely subjective, ever-shifting concept. “Wake my blood up, feels good/ Flowing easy like I knew it would/ Shed the shackles on cue /I’ll make my way to you.”
While this passage warns against the temptations of a mid-lockdown Tinder hookup, it also forms part of a wider time capsule of Covid Music—music created under quarantine—only made possible by the aggressively marketed tech which facilitates every aspect of our lives. And to that, Royal Canoe have added a slice of buoyant dream pop with an idealistic world view which is just as representative as a calculated takedown of the global elite. Royal Canoe’s album Sidelining drops July 9 via Paper Bag Records, and hopefully it will act as an all natural sedative to a world on the brink.