We’ve all heard our fair share of pandemic records at this point, but there’s not much that captures the time better than one created by an artist who planned to take it to a recording studio when lockdown lifted, opting instead to get out all of their pent-up emotions out in a homemade burst of energy rather than wait.
The Vancouver-born, Toronto-based pop-rock project Rec Centre’s latest, as a result, feels like the classic juxtaposition of a cheery sound and downtrodden lyrics elevated to its highest degree, as frontman Alex Hudson spins thoughts ranging from “existential panic and television static” to his opinion of a standoffish next-door neighbour into vintage-sounding melodies out of the 60s pop songwriting playbook and Weezer-esque bright melodics. Of course, tunes in this style are best delivered by an endearingly human narrator, and Hudson’s intrusive thoughts certainly capitalize in that field.
Another important juxtaposition makes the record stand out from the pack as well: its rawness makes it sound like it was recorded at home, giving it a personal angle, but it’s certainly not lo-fi. Many of the tracks are ornately arranged, with layers of overlapping guitar parts and harmonies, and without the studio polish you can feel the effort that went into making it sound as good as it does even more.