Published Sep 25, 2020It's said Montreal is where 20 year-olds go to retire. But the proto-geriatric cruise ships bearing down the St. Lawrence no longer play the arty siren songs of yore. Joining the pile of Mile End indie-absconders (Win Butler, Graham Van Pelt, etc.) Blue Hawaii have fully jettisoned their art pop roots in Under 1 House — sandblasting off the edges from their earlier dance gambits like Tenderness and last year's Open Reduction Internal Fixation — to drop a mixtape of Berlin-by-way-of-Durocher house music. Does it work?
The mixtape launches out of the blocks with a boilerplate clubby drum sequence; a twittering of candy-coated synth soon follows. But even the bilious rock revivalist is quieted once producer Alex Kerby's drums pick up and Raphaelle Standell-Preston (of Braids) sets off with her signature coo. The girl with the golden voice bezels this record with heart-sundering sensuality, her soprano providing the sailing emotive counterpoint to Kerby's Ableton chisel.
Under 1 House's high-BPM, supremely danceable through-line gives the singer ample room to stunt on — she capably scrapes the Himalayas in songs like "Feelin" and "I Felt Love," and doeishly deadpans through the mixtape's highlight, the Purity Ring-meets-Burial "Where Are the Keys?".
However, the mixtape's most titillating ear candies come thanks to saxophonist Adam Kinner, whose fleeting snatches of glorious tenor give most songs on this mixtape their golden trim.
Forgiving them their mixtape's one-off whiff, the Shazam bait whodunnit "No Drama," Under 1 House is a surefire bet to get all hips on deck a-swingin'. With this collection, Blue Hawaii have climbed into the crow's nest of Montreal's dance music revival. (Arbutus)