Toronto band Fjord Mustang have found connection and creative explosion during the pandemic, and have come together to create an extraordinary body of work with their debut album “Solitaire”. Let’s waste no time and get straight into it.
Opening up an album packed with emotional reflection, ‘Five Years’ is a classic indie rock track that utilises a strong drive to balance out the soft vocals that carry this delicate message of needing to speak up for yourself. The dynamic difference between the lead vocal, and the strength in the kit and wash of the guitar provide the backbone for what to expect from the album to come
With gorgeously organic melodies that create such a dreamy feeling against the guitar strums, ‘Health Class Field Trip’ really harnesses the evolution the track took from bedroom sing-song, to full blown band atmosphere. The chord choices in this track create an expressive framework for Vicks melodies to dance around with an assortment of memorable lyrics, and the emphasis on ‘health class field trip’ in the chorus is a fantastic display of how to bring out something powerful with the use of strong one syllable words.
The third track of the album is an emotionally driven piece about closing a chapter, and moving beyond a comforting familiarity. The mixing of the kick in this song really ground the ‘Final thoughts (or Not)’ in an intimacy; it feels like you’re in the final garage band practice before the instruments are packed up and you move house.
‘VHS’ comes with a change in sonic tone from three preceding tracks, as Fjord Mustang employs the use of reverse effects and sparse instrumentation to convey a message of avoiding to face your past. The introspective track is laden with emotions relating to the futility of life, and the deep set desire to share it with another.
Fjord Mustang are again showcasing their mastery over clever melody writing as Vick weaves her way over and around some gorgeously unconventional chord choices to create this classic indie rock track about feeling out of touch with the passage of time
Sitting at the middle point of the Album, ‘Lakes Inn’ is a short, yet cinematic track about summers frozen in time, unable to be revisited, but living immortally in your memory. The gradual slowing down of this piece is heartbreaking so beware.
The unexpected sultry vocal and bass duet that opens Gauntlet was a tonal shift that deeply reflected the songs message of feeling stifled by the need to control all aspects of your life. This song felt more experimental than the previous tracks I the album, and the driving percussive atmosphere created a real sense of unease that we had gotten so used to from “Solitaire”
Delicately balancing between comforting and sinister chord choices is where the opening ‘Fortune’ sits, and the introduction of the rest of the backline eventually transforms the track into head bopping, polyrhythmic story of taking action before life passes you by.
The intimacy in the instrumentation of ‘Good Times’ leaves you to focus on the potent, and at times confrontational, lyric choices about coming to terms with the ugly within ourselves and those around us. Vick’s vocals are a real hero in this track, the line “good times don’t come for free” being lifted up in this swell of airy textures as the reverb on the guitar expands and engulfs the listener.
The use of atmosphere in ‘Ribbons’ is key in experiencing the full onslaught of feelings it’s capable of conveying, and as Nathan, Devon and Cameron build and make space for the structure of the track to shine, you’re left feeling a little on edge for what the next section is going to bring you. ‘Ribbons’ is an intrinsically vivid track as your exposed to the full spectrum of dynamic density in the span of 5 minutes
Closing the “Solitaire” body of work is the emotive and patient melodies in ‘Stained Glass’. After an album of varying dynamic climaxes, this final track is not only sonically comforting with its friendly guitar plucks, and long drawn vocal inflections, it’s message is also one of moving onwards and upwards. I find it so generous of Fjord Mustang to give such a tangible example of a closing track that aims to centre your spirit after a lengthy album of emotional expression, and it really defines the band as one that is determined to have their listeners feel seen and validated in whatever emotional baggage they are bringing forth when they take the time to listen to the album as a full collection
The “Solitaire” album is truly a masterpiece of self-reflection amidst the uncertainty of a lengthy isolating period like we all experienced in various lockdowns of the last two years, and for the band to have found such a deeply beautiful well to draw these songs out of is proof that creativity and connection can outlast the internal and external darkness that we can experience in our lives.
I honestly feel transformed after listening to this album, and I look forward to Fjord Mustang’s finding their global audience, and hopefully touring down under.