Shapeshifters is the first release from Canadian trio Good Lovelies since 2015’s excellent Burn The Plan. While Shapeshifters doesn’t quite reach the same heights, it is still a decent album of harmony filled three minute pop songs. Originally released in Canada last year, the album has been available digitally in the UK, but is now being given a physical release
Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Sue Passmore have been playing together since 2006, although various solo and other commitments have continued alongside, meaning that their Good Lovelies output is relatively minimal. Burn The Plan was perhaps the best of their first four studio albums, a pop-folk collection of thirteen songs with plenty of life and energy, built around the lush harmonies of three fine voices. This time around, Shapeshifters is perhaps closer to a mainstream pop release, the production at times burying their Americana and folk influences.
The album’s first track and lead single I See Gold is a strong song with an optimistic feel. The harmonies are lush and the intricate structure of the track introduces the shapeshifting theme, leaving a sense of choosing to see the future in a positive light. The acoustic guitars and slow vocals that open When We Were Young give it an atmospheric beauty almost reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Daylight is more downbeat, a good piano led track that is again vocally strong. The excellent closing song This Little Heart comes closest to a typical Good Lovelies sound, opening with their voices coming together in quite sublime a capello harmonies before a banjo and acoustic guitar come in.
There are several tracks that typify the new radio friendly approach. Take Me, Take Me has an odd beat, the backing vocals almost becoming a chant. Lightness is vocally vibrant, but sits over an annoyingly repetitive rhythm. I Have A Dream tends more to electro-pop with ethereal vocals over synth sounds. These are all well crafted songs, but for me they don’t play to the trio’s vocal strengths.
An album titled Shapeshifters probably gives a good indication that a band is evolving and changing. While musical progression is, of course, to be welcomed, the development here is definitely towards the musical mainstream. This perhaps means losing some of the more individualistic elements of a unique sound as a trade off. But if this album increases the reach and popularity of a very talented trio’s work then who can blame them?
Release date: 5 April 2019
Label: Universal Music Group