In the crowded realm of Canadian indie rock an earworm can go a long way, and in the case of Winnipeg’s Federal Lights, well, let’s just say they may have dug up the right patch of soil. “Into the Ground”, the lead single off their sophomore full-length album is deceptively catchy and triumphant. Sweeping background vocals and consistently panning drums form a gorgeous base for band leader Jean-Guy Roy’s perfectly crafted melody and his everyman delivery. The song could end up becoming a CanCon staple on rock radio across the country.
Coeur de Lion could feature 11 more tracks exactly like “Into the Ground” but instead Federal Lights decide to explore different sonic and emotional territory and the album is all the better for it. On stand-out track “Dark of the Night “, what starts as a simple piano ballad slowly builds, with the help of a steady bass drum stomp, into an epic crescendo. “In the dark of the night, you shine,” Roy belts out, with the rest of his band mates joining in for the last two words creating a beautiful moment that reveals the song’s structure plays out in the same way as the scene depicted in the song’s key lyric.
Coeur de Lion is an album about love and the ups and downs that come with it, so for every triumphant moment there is a gloomier one waiting around the corner. This dichotomy is what makes Coeur de Lion intriguing. However, when the ups and downs don’t balance out, specifically when things get too down, much like the love Roy is singing about, you’re left wondering whether it’s worth sticking around. Fortunately Federal Lights manage to pack in enough hooks and enough emotionally satisfying moments to make Coeur de Lion a worthwhile listen.
Federal Lights, Coeur de Lion
Aporia Records, January 29, 2016