When you first hear The Orielles, you might have mixed thoughts in your head. On one side, not a lot of people can deny that the ‘80s were, and still are, a decade of comforting sounds, immortal anthems and the everlasting definition of being cool. Contemporary films are still full of music from that decade, we have composers courageously stealing and reinstating its archaic electronic elements, and we have young bands, very young in fact, inspired and heavily influenced by it. But on the other side, if you’re not fresh out of college and are carrying a healthy load of cynicism already, you might wonder: are we running out of ideas? Is the best of music behind us?
This sort of internal conflict is not always a bad thing. Anything making you question the direction in which we are going, and why, is worth a discussion. One thing is certain: ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ is a psychedelic trip through neon lights, flashy colours and, ultimately, back in time.
The very-young trio from Halifax demonstrate exceptional ability to coordinate retro guitar hooks, occasional off-beat tempos and dreamy vocals, resulting in songwriting that exceeds our melodic expectations, despite being stylistically borrowed from a time when you could only hear music on cassettes and vinyl. Lyrically, the songs could not be more open to interpretation than they already are, taking us on a hippy trip of impossible metaphors and confusion on some new, uncharted level.
Intentionally or not, the journey back in time begins with the lyrics of Mango, the juicy opening track: “But this place feels familiar”. It casually sets the tone of the album with the lightness of summery indie pop hooks. Before long we encounter Let Your Dogtooth Grow, unquestionably one of the main highlights of the album. As the band reveal intricate pop culture inspirations such as David Lynch and Yorgos Lanthimos for both the song and the trippy video, they also show us that they really don’t like writing conventional lyrics.
The title and lyrics are a direct nod to the film Dogtooth which digs deep into our society’s controlling behaviour towards young people and their understanding of the world. Injecting such cryptic meaning into what seems like an innocent indie pop song is brave to say the least. The Orielles like to peel the layers of the world and question the appearance of everything.
An attractive look covering something rotten is a tale as old as time, as told in I Only Bought It For The Bottle. In a way, the song itself is a mirrored image of its meaning: it’s a melodic number mixed up with catchy guitars and twisted rhythm, sounding pretty but only revealing lyrics about a mediocre drink hidden under interesting packaging. Beauty is hollow with no substance and what’s underneath will turn your tongue green.
The theme of expectation versus reality and deceitful appearances continues to creep throughout the rest of the album, such as the realisation in the chorus of 48 Percent: “I see the sun in the sky and it hurts my eyes, it hurts my eyes”.
Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist) brings the album to a funky finish, leaving us out of breath, still grooving on an imaginary dancefloor somewhere in our own heads. The boring silence following the final notes reinstates the inside-jokey meaning of the title ‘Silver Dollar Moment’, explained by the band: a late night gig they played in a Toronto venue called Silver Dollar Room, tired and underslept, turned out to be one of the best shows they ever played. Named after this moment, the album is – like anything unexpectedly brilliant – covered in layers and requiring an open, curious mind. The Orielles aren’t what they seem: with every note and word your curiosity grows into an impatient child demanding more. We learned the world has multiple faces and it’s up to us to discover them.