The Stills "Being Here"

The Stills 'Being Here'
Just two years ago I was asking myself what on earth had happened to the Stills. When they appeared in 2003, they were a fresh breath of air, representing Canada in the gloomy, atmospheric ’80s aping rock sound that was headed up by Interpol. Their debut album, Logic Will Break Your Heart, was a sparkling first effort filled with all sorts of hooks, slinky bass lines and iridescent guitars. And then something happened. They fell for the sophomore slump and completely blew their follow-up, the steadily weak Without Feathers, which immediately rubbed me the wrong way with its uninspiring switch to MOR rock. I can’t speak for everyone, but the Stills left my mouth with an unsavoury taste in it.

But all things must pass and the band have found a new home, moving from Vice to a much better fit in Arts & Crafts, which is set to release their third album, Oceans Will Rise, on August 19. Already I see improvement in their coifs - check the pompadour on Tim Fletcher - and their cover art, which is splendidly macabre, and Sadly though, it’s not a sign that they’ve gone goth, but I can proudly say that the band have made remarkable strides to return to the form that first caught our eyes and ears five years ago.

Lead single "Being Here” builds with a warm ooze of feedback and group harmonies, which then yield to a familiar drum beat and the entrance of chiming guitars and Tim Fletcher’s emoting vocals. Deciding to stick with the semi-muscular rock sound, the boys have re-discovered the hooks found in past glories "Lola…” and "Still In Love Song.” While it’s not as immediate as either of those, there’s no denying the anthemic scale of "Being Here,” from the memorable riff on the chorus, to the comforting titular chorus itself. And how about that subtle tangent inserted before the third verse? Nicely done.

The Stills have kept it simple, and it’s paid off for them. Good to have them back.

Here are some June dates where you can hear a preview of Oceans Will Rise:

6/10 Ottawa ON, Zaphod Beeblebrox
6/11 Toronto ON, Mod Club (NXNE)
6/28 Beauce QC, Woodstock En Beauce