Album review: Mended with Gold

Latest offering from The Rural Alberta Advantage has a lot to offer, but is the band abandoning its roots?

The Rural Alberta Advantage is straight out of Toronto (I know, right?) and released a third album, Mended with Gold, on Sept. 30.

Mended with Gold is the latest record from Toronto band The Rural Alberta Advantage (Paper Bag Records)

Mended with Gold is the latest record from Toronto band The Rural Alberta Advantage (Paper Bag Records)

The 12-track record isn’t much of a departure for the band. If you’re looking for loud, fun indie rock with a lot of heart sung by a guy who sounds a lot like Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pump­kins, look no further.

The album’s best feature is its percussion. Drummer Paul Ban­watt is a machine. No, seriously, I think they replaced him with a drum machine infused with the soul of a talented and passion­ate drummer. How else could he deliver such consistent, delicate quick-hit beats that so effective­ly contrast the smoothness heard on some of this record’s tracks? Especially the mellow-but-quick and haunting “Vulcan, AB.”

Another standout on the album is “On the Rocks.” It’s got a puls­ing lo-fi intro that adds a certain grittiness. It comes clean about 30 seconds in, but the theme re­turns throughout and the song is noticeably well-composed. Lead singer Nils Edenloff slurs his vo­cals a little more than he should, but he’s always bright where he needs to be.

If the other offerings on the record were consistent with the themes heard in “On the Rocks,” it might be a little better. It’s still quite good, but I don’t think it’s on par with 2010’s Departing or the more garage rock-sounding record Hometowns from 2008.

Perhaps it’d be a good idea for the band to return to its rough­er roots. There are certain 2008 tracks, like “The Dethbridge in Lethbridge” that sound, by com­parison to the almost over-pro­duced tracks found on Mended with Gold, like they were written and recorded in the same day by some sort of natural rocker talent and a group of guys who all met that day to make something awe­some.

It’s the gritty, lo-fi sound that made me like the band to begin with, so anything that sounds like an attempt for them to abandon it feels a little alienating to me. But regardless, I hope the band continues to find an audience, even if I’m not in it.