Shapes and Sizes
Candle to Your Eyes
It’s one of the first days of spring here in Montreal. The sun feels warm, and new green is imminent. There’s a buzz all around on days like these. The winter was cold and long, but it makes the spring sweeter. Shapes and Sizes settled here three years ago. I say “settled” because prior to their arrival here they kept a rigorous touring schedule. Touring with The National, Yeasayer, opening shows for the Silver Jews, Sufjan Stevens; too many shows to get into specifics. So when they arrived in Montreal, there was a feeling of resolution, maybe even hibernation. They carried out their daily chores: one sold books, another records, one studied music and perception while delivering groceries at night, and another never kept her eyes too far from the road.
But all this while, the band was quietly tinkering. You see deep down, Shapes and Sizes never really settle. Each record starts where the previous left off, and forays into new territory. The first album, which initially caught the attention of Asthmatic Kitty’s Sufjan Stevens, was really just a collection of crafted pop songs. The second was a glorious mess, jagged guitars matched with gentle banjo, as obnoxious as it was sensitive.
And the third? Well, it took long enough to drag out of them. After two years of writing songs, recording the album took another year. Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (A Silver Mt. Zion, Tim Hecker) recorded the album at the Hotel 2 Tango, and it was mixed at the Pines by David Bryant (Growing, Set Fire to Flames). Set-backs and indecision played their part, but the lengthy incubation period seems to suit the record: the songs are measured, paced. They are neither shouting in your face or wallowing in their own mood. Cohesive and reliable, this is the record where Shapes and Sizes becomes a band, not just a collection of songwriters. Some might talk about the album’s flirtation with modern soul, its darkness, its reverberant space, or argue over whether or not it is a rock album. But for me, this kind of talk has no importance. At the core of this record is a self-assuredness, a calm, consistent fire. And just like the promise of this beautiful spring day, this record is a new beginning, new life.