Wares – ‘Survival’ album review

Wares Survival album review

Wares (Edmonton native Cassia Hardy) releases her second LP (and first on Mint Records) ‘Survival’ on 24 April. It’s an album that Cassia dedicates to ‘decolonial activists, anti-fascist agitators and prairie queers fighting for community and a better life’.

A blast of feedback signals the start of album opener ‘Hands, Skin’ before Cassia’s assertive La Dispute-style spoken-word vocals (‘I left my body behind taking only what I could afford’) come in along with some jaunty but fuzzy guitar licks. ‘Tall Girl’ follows with a more melodic and swaying yet still otherworldly, layered sound and reflective lyrics: ‘I regret not getting to know you better’. The next couple of songs have an ’80s vibe with ‘Living Proof’ doused in electronica and ‘Tether’ a defiant slice of new wave – albeit with a touch of impassioned Life Without Buildings vocal stylings: ‘Something had to change, I can’t deny anymore’.

With its stop-start guitars and odd time signatures, ‘Surrender into Waiting Arms’ is packed with emo sensibilities while the storytelling narrative of ‘Jenny Says’ calms everything down. This song finds Cassia looking back on a fateful meeting: ‘Sitting on the overpass, watching the lights change. The cars go on and on. A woman sits to join me and she passes me a match. She said ‘I could die tomorrow and it wouldn’t change a bit”. It’s this conversation that inspires Cassia although it’s blighted by the sadness that both women feel as they search for answers: ‘She asked why’d it hurt so much to get out of bed sometimes’.

With its dark bass sound and intense harmonies, ‘Complete Control’ veers into a Nick Cave or Anna Calvi direction as Cassia examines how hard it is to escape your anxieties when you’re left to your own devices: ‘It’s so much easier with you around to call me out’. ‘Violence’ is another one with a futuristic soundscape as it blends slow-building drums with subtle strings, although the subject matter is heartbreaking: ‘The coach doesn’t lift a finger until he’s sure they’ve had enough. The boys all watch each other changing and pretend they’re not in love’. ‘Surface World’ looks towards better things with its agit-rock melodies while the closing ‘Survival’ is a direct, woozy and catchy slice of indie pop.

‘Survival’ is a record that anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will want to celebrate.

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