PS I Love You - Death Dreams
- By Sam Herbert -
- May 24, 2012
What is it about musicians and death? Every successful musician has to have at least one song based on mortality; Morrison, Curtis, Cobain, and that’s without reference to the entire back catalogue of My Chemical Romance. The latest addition to the pile is ‘Death Dreams’, the sophomore record by the Canadian band PS I Love You. After the success of debut, ‘Meet Me at the Muster Station,’ a rollicking thrashing of guitars and shrieks that helped catapult Benjamin Nelson and Paul Saulnier into the indie-sphere, the latter started having dark dreams about the ultimate question – the result being Death Dreams. The clue is in the title.
For the most part the morbid sentiments are hidden somewhere in the often indecipherable wailings of Saulnier: listen closely and you’ll be able to make out “this is the worst week of my life” in ‘Don’t Go,’ and “sleeping in the van with a knife in my hand...in one day I lost all I ever loved” – it’s self-loathing at its emo best. In 'Sentimental Dishes', a rip-snorter of a song with crashing symbols and scuzzy guitars, Saulnier apathetically screams on the chorus “I don’t wanna do the dishes! You don’t wanna do the dishes!” before unleashing a guitar solo that Slayer would be pleased with - the banality of domestic life given zest in a gloriously defiant and fun indie-pop song.
Even if the content of the lyrics has become a little heavier (it would be irksome for them to continue paging songs about breaking out of their hometown, Kingston, Ontario, like they did in 2010’s Meet Me at the Muster Station) they still remain true to the driving drums and distorted writhing guitars shown on their debut. ‘Toronto’ rattles through at a frenetic pace; Saulnier’s paranoid cries relaying his anxiety as Nelson unrelentingly pounds away at the drums. ‘Future Dontcare’ immediately follows to build on the foundations of worry for what lays in store; “I wish this summer was like last summer...Love doesn’t care about the future.” It’s lines like these that would make any psychotherapist lick their lips in anticipation of sitting Saulnier down on the couch for a few costly sessions.
The LP is split into two sections by instrumental songs, ‘Death Dreams’ as an opener and ‘Death Dreams II’ halfway through are, according to their website, a recreation of a melody played by a ‘death march band’ from one of Saulnier’s dreams. The opener sets the scene for what’s to come with a bleak overture that atmospherically sweeps by, whilst ‘Death Dreams II’ acts as an interlude from Saulnier’s keening howls more than anything else. It kind of works. As ‘How Do You’ rolls in like a thundering wave you are slightly pleased to hear the familiar screech back again. The song itself has a good contrast between thrashing guitars and mellifluous breakdowns, giving it a Pavement-esque feel.
Although in parts the record feels like a therapeutic release for Saulnier to vent his anxieties about life, the future and, ultimately, death, it’s easy to ignore the self-loathing sentiments and concentrate on songs that are actually very good. ‘Red Quarter’ builds and erupts into a two minute oozing of guitar solo, smothering everything in its path, whilst closing track ‘Close Contact’ is a unabashed display of triumphant rock and roll, almost coming across as a celebration of life compared to the other tracks. Whatever Saulnier says about death, one thing’s for certain, guitar music is very much alive in PS I Love You.
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