The debut album from English Words, Red Potion, is a 33 minute collage of new wave and 80′s alternative, with 70′s synth ambience, bursts of neo-psychedelia and even a hint of Britpop. It all gets pieced together to form a singular vision of original and contemporary DIY pop music, riddled with hooks. The band includes primary songwriters Aaron Crane (synths/sampler/drum machine) and his brother Ryan (vocals), with essential collaborators Todd MacLean (synths), Andrew Murray (guitars), and Thayne Campbell (bass).
Produced by Holy Fuck bassist Matt McQuaid, Red Potion was recorded at the Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, Nova Scotia by Diego Medina, and mixed by Stew Crookes at Stewdio in Toronto. All 10 songs, reverbed, delayed, and neatly crunched, feel like a high speed tunnel drive with the top down – gusty vortexes of moving air, dark mystery at the centre, racing towards the light at the end. The music layers creative, punchy rhythms with stylish synth lines, efficiently placed guitar, modest bass drops, and a pallet of unlikely samples which include Pakistani surf rock, movie dialogue, and low-fi 90′s indie rock. The songs can be weighty at times, but never off-putting and never feigning pathos. There’s a distinct sounding shrug in the lyrics and vocals, and enough musical anti-drama to keep things from getting too heavy.Red Potion shifts gears between fully charged electro rock, woozy after-hours ballads, and spacey experimental pop, allowing it to resonate during personal listens and in more gregarious settings, as reflected in both the band’s live show and the club-stomping lead single “People I Love”. The record was influenced, either sonically or in spirit, by a list of childhood heros which includes New Order, DJ Shadow, David Bowie, early 80′s era REM, and the Replacements, along with more contemporary works from Animal Collective and Deerhunter.
Preceding their debut effort, English Words played tightly wound, guitar-and-drum based indie rock. A four song EP, Customer Appreciation, was released in early 2010 which saw the band’s single “Rope” climb CBC Radio 3′s R30 chart. The band, both as English Words and former moniker Smothered In Hugs (a name stolen from a Guided By Voices song) have played countless shows at home in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and have frequently toured Eastern Canada playing POP Montreal, NXNE, and the Halifax Pop Explosion.