Pandemic-era artwork has given us a shorthand for a collective expertise—sourdough starters, whipped espresso, Pelotons, loneliness, confinement, boredom. Over time, adopted by sufficient of the bored and lonely, repetition sands away the emotional texture till these signifiers really feel flat and impersonal. Canadian indie stalwarts Julie Doiron and Dany Placard’s Julie & Dany, recorded of their New Brunswick dwelling in the course of the province’s necessary isolation from neighboring Quebec, adopts the lofty objective of infusing the staid with recent which means. These free, unvarnished tracks—evocative of the couple’s earlier work in teams like Eric’s Journey and Plywood—penetrate the post-traumatic haze with sharp, keening perception.
When the parameters of life shrink to the scale of a house, so does the effectively of inspiration, however Doiron and Placard sift by the home like professional miners. Opener “Dégèle” plunks us into the loop of their routine after a humanizing false begin within the first few seconds. Because the tune will get going, so can we—taking in a little bit recent air, dancing lifelessly within the kitchen, planting flowers to stave off creeping concern. Specificity makes this thrumming, harmonized chant—a refrain that translate roughly to “I’m going outdoors for a little bit air,” and later, “The earth’s gotta thaw”—all of the extra convincing, plucky guitars charging forward like somebody decided to not assume too arduous or an excessive amount of.
“Mendacity,” two songs later, is when actuality catches up—grief, concern of an unknown future—and its easy, incantatory lyrics sail on Doiron’s plaintive vocals. Intimacy could be a pure consequence of those homebound songs, written by two folks cohabitating by a disaster, and the usage of regional phrases like “Chu” (“I’m”) as a substitute of formal French “Je suis” (additionally “I’m”) lends additional attraction: We’re pulled in shut, sharing inner monologues and mayonnaise from the fridge close by. By means of this diction, the duo additional anchors the report not solely in a selected (unhealthy) yr but additionally in a selected place, a selected lens by which to see the world.
Julie & Dany’s experiments with levels of scale are one other canny manner to make sure the report stretches past its bodily confines. The place “Mendacity” and “Vénus” are tender and inward-facing, “Jean-Talon Market” opts for bombast and electrical riffs, David Bowie’s “Heroes” with the grit and insouciance of a Liz Phair tune. “Tomate” slogs by sludgy guitars and barroom vocals, imbuing the planting of tomatoes with imminent hazard. This nimble forwards and backwards between defiance and defeat means nothing will get stale: Sounds and emotions go from giant and sweeping to huddled in a nook, whispering right into a microphone, a polarity that rings true to lived expertise.