Because adulthood tends to be long on responsibility and short on resources, growing older has a way of pushing practicality to the forefront. It’s here that the mettle of the creative type is truly tested. When push comes to shove, it is easy to neglect any pursuits that don’t bear immediate and concrete results.
But Montreal’s Young Galaxy would argue that those acts are worth preserving. “There's idealism in the early part of your adulthood that's so concrete and so tangible in your day-to-day life,” vocalist Catherine McCandless says, getting at the heart of Falsework, the band’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2013’s critically-acclaimed Ultramarine.
“We are people … who are trying to feel a sense of inspiration to maintain an unconventional lifestyle or creative direction,” says McCandless. “I would call it feeding that kernel of idealism. Something you continue to nurture.”
- Photo courtesy of Luke Orlando
- Young Galaxy (left to right: Catherine McCandless, Matthew Shapiro, Stephen Ramsay)
The recording process took place during a time when Young Galaxy’s members were reassessing their resources and priorities. “We saw this kind of change occurring where we realized that this [was] going to be hard to do year in, year out, going into the studio and paying a lot of money … to make our records,” explains singer/guitarist Stephen Ramsay, who is also McCandless’ husband. (Keyboardist Matt Shapiro and touring drummer Andrea Silver round out the lineup). “So, we started to look at whether or not we could do it in our own studio more.” Then, as luck would have it, he says, “I came into a windfall of old ’70s and ’80s analog synths in this very bizarre way.”
The gear was not acquired through industry connections, but via the building superintendent of the band’s rehearsal space. He mentioned that he owned a few synths and Ramsay began to pester him for a closer look. “Eventually, he just walked into my space with a Roland Juno 60 — which is a very sought-after, classic piece of gear — and I kind of … said to myself, ‘OK, this is going to be crazy,’” Ramsay says. More equipment followed.
The resulting record shimmers, hums and throbs in the ways one would expect of synth-driven dance music. Lyrically, Falsework’s existential musings seem to contemplate the trade-off inherent to creative pursuits, elevating the songs beyond the realm of mere pop. “I finally see what you’re looking for / a little piece of me, to take away from me,” McCandless sings on “We’re No Good.” Sonically, there is a multi-dimensionality that makes it distinctive, without the thinness that often stifles this genre. McCandless’ voice mingles among the beats and melodies without hovering above or burrowing beneath a foundational backing track. It is a ghost in the machine, obfuscated and obfuscating, vying to make itself heard.