REVIEW: Land of Talk – “Inner Lover”
by Chad Jewett
Land of Talk has always offered a kind of cool, calm precision. Even the loudest moments of 2008’s excellent Some Are Lakes hit with a glassy, pristine sharpness, with every ringing chord eventually falling back into place. “Inner Lover”, the Toronto band’s first single from their long-awaited new LP Life After Youth, dials in even further on this kind of sonic spotlessness. Built from a ticking bass-snare backbone and a burbling cushion of rounded synthesizer, singer Elizabeth Powell takes her time. When the song’s chorus meanders into focus, the hook (“You light it slowly / You light it slowly”) sticks around for a while before melting back into that initial beat. Guitars are scarce; dynamics are eschewed in favor of spotless minimalism, perhaps reflective of the fact that Land of Talk’s roster now officially lists Powell as its sole member. All the ups and downs now come from her still-arresting voice. The song’s dynamic, perhaps as a result, feels less band-driven and more akin to the chilly, hyper-stylized R&B of James Blake or Junior Boys. As a production, “Inner Lover” is striking for its exactness and its austerity. As a song, it’s a challenge: a surprising reflection of where pop music seems to be at the moment – hushed, ruminative, and ghostly.