Listening to Northern Passages, the fourth album from Toronto indie rockers The Sadies, you would think that you were in the 1960’s. It’s a wistful and melancholy sound that envelops you as songs whisk by in a psychedelic and indie rock fashion. It seems to transport you to a place other than where you are currently and bring you into it’s own world. The band’s sound has eclectic roots and it seems they’ve touched on almost all genres of music when creating their songs. They have incorporated traditional country, indie touchings, and rock all to wind up with Northern Passages.
The album has a general smooth and soothing feel. There are exceptions to this tone such as “Questions I’ve Never Asked” and “Through Strange Eyes” which are more up-tempo and intense. Specifically with the aforementioned, they have a hint of angst in the guitar. However, the guitar is played in different manners in how it is played in each song. It may be extremely rock and roll one minute, and another you may feel as if you are in the country huddled around a campfire and jamming out. The versatility can’t necessarily be said for the lyrics. In all songs, the wording isn’t too peppy or extremely hopeful. But that’s what makes this such a unique album – they underscore the realities of life. They also just have messages to relate to their listeners, doing so while keeping the integrity of the music going.
A must listen is “It’s Easy (Like Walking)”, which features Kurt Vile. It was released earlier as a single to precede this release, and it was the perfect choice. The catchiness of the song can hook new listeners, but doesn’t stray too much from the vibe of the album. Some artists release singles that don’t necessarily match up with their eventual album, but The Sadies stick with their true tone. “It’s easy like walking” is repeated throughout as they sing about playing guitar and being devoted to it.
“Riverview Fog” is one of my favorites, being that it is closest to the music I most often listen to. After a few listens, I put this into my regular shuffle of songs, as it reminding me of how simplicity can trump complexity when creating hits. Not only is it’s sound close to traditional country, it even outright states “But I know that you’re where you need to be/Out in the country.” It’s nostalgic and beautiful in it’s composition, and a great tune without being too in-your-face, a rare treasure to hear. Without a doubt, it stands out from the rest.
Northern Passages is classic Sadies in a nutshell, a mix of eclectic sounds that wound up making a remarkable album. They haven’t lost their touch through the years, album after album. It’s a worth listen and hooks you in an instant.