Casper Skulls have announced the follow up to their ‘Lips & Skull’ EP that came out via Buzz Records in late 2016 in the form of their debut full length, with the release of the album’s first single, You Can Call Me Allocator. The album, entitled ‘Mercy Works,’ will be out via Buzz Records on November 3rd, and its first single captures the energy and ambition that makes the album such a powerful statement of intent. Take a listen to You Can Call Me Allocator via Soundcloud below.
Described by the band as a song about mortality and evolving personal and cultural legacies, You Can Call Me Allocator explores its concepts with a subtle wit and an arresting clarity of vision. Built around detailed references to Elvis Presley, Paul Simon (who are both addressed explicitly and obliquely) and their two Gracelands, the track gradually ascends along a path set by the interaction between lead vocalists, Neil Bednis and Melanie St. Pierre, before hitting its towering peak with the aid of a string section in the dramatic final third.
In support of the release, Casper Skulls have announced North American tour dates, which will include stops at Pop Montreal and Halifax Pop Explosion, and dates with Julie & The Wrong Guys, And The Kids, Partner and Baked>. Full details can be found below.
‘Mercy Works’ was recorded in early 2017 with co-producer/engineer Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Dilly Dally), and mixed by Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Death Cab For Cutie). While the rough and ready post-punk and lo-fi early ’90s indie influences present on the band’s first recordings still provide the foundation, there is a sense of scale on display in their swelling guitar figures and sweeping string arrangements (provided by Toronto musician Paul Erlichman) that is mirrored by the songwriting of dual lead vocalists Melanie St. Pierre and Neil Bednis. The real-life couple seek to represent lived experience in immense detail – engaging with a diverse palette of references, both musical and lyrical, to explore two intensely personal perspectives of emotional growth.
Thematically, the album traverses various paths of self-exploration, from relationships to politics to death and grief, in a language inflected by an immersion in several generations of experimental guitar music, and an ambivalent grappling with the reverberations of a Catholic upbringing. Whether drawing on the poetry of William Blake (What’s That Good For), the dystopian sci-fi of Philip K. Dick (Colour of the Outside), or ruminating on mortality and evolving personal/cultural legacies through Elvis Presley and Paul Simon’s trips to Graceland (You Can Call Me Allocator), St. Pierre and Bednis collect pieces of the world around them and imbue them with new meaning as they attempt to understand their place in it.
Bednis explains his inspiration behind the swirling standout I Stared at ‘Moses and the Burning Bush’, a song about the role of religion in his own experience of grief constructed around a reference to a painting by the ’80s pop artist Keith Haring: “I like the idea of exploring biblical imagery without necessarily picking sides,” says Bednis. “It’s rationed throughout the songs what my stance is, if I even have a stance. I find that religion can be therapeutic when people in your life die. When my uncle passed away, I remember sitting in the pew having the idea for the song. That day I was really contemplating the role religion plays in grief and death. Keith Haring’s weird take on a biblical story also made me feel OK about diving into that realm. Religion doesn’t necessarily need to be a sacred thing.”
The driving force behind Mercy Works is the band’s irrepressible desire to pursue new ideas and explore the expressive possibilities of the music they make. Reflexively humble, and infectiously enthusiastic, Casper Skulls are a group that see themselves as being at the beginning of their journey, an enticing prospect given the self-assuredness that underpins their debut.
“It’s so exciting to make music when you can explore what you want to explore,” says Bednis. “Where we can go in terms of sound is endless. We’re big ambient music nuts so it’d be great to make an ambient record after this one, or an acoustic album. The goal is to be as freely creative as we can be as four people.”
“We’re really only at the start of being a band,” St-Pierre agrees. “Our records don’t have to move mountains as long as we’re being true to our own ideas. We want to be a slow burning candle.”
‘Mercy Works’ will be released via Buzz Records on November 3rd. It’s available for preorder
1. Mercy Works
2. You Can Call Me Allocator
3. Lingua Franca
4. What’s That Good For
6. Colour of the Outside
7. Chicane, OH
8. I Stared at “Moses and the Burning Bush”
9. The Science of Dichotomies
11. Faded Sound
09/07 Toronto, ON – The Horseshoe Tavern *
09/08 Guelph, ON – eBar *
09/15 Montreal, QC – POP Montreal @ Escogriffe
09/21 Windsor, ON – Phog Lounge *
09/22 London, ON – Call The Office *
10/17 Ottawa, ON – Dominion
10/20 Halifax, NS – Halifax POP @ Seahorse Tavern
10/21 Fredericton, NB @ Capital #
11/02 St. Catherine’s, ON – Warehouse
11/10 Chicago, IL – Subterranean%
11/11 Cincinnati, OH – MOTR
11/12 Pittsburgh, PA – Spirit
11/13 Washington, DC – Comet Ping Pong
11/14 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
11/16 Brooklyn, NY – Alphaville ~
* w/ Julie & The Wrong Guys
% w/ And The Kids
# w/ Partner
~ w/ Baked, Bueno