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The first aspect of this album by Montreal/Victoria duo The Backhomes that features former Key of K member Aimée Van Drimmelen and Kees Dekker is it’s intense (and awesome) drugginess. Narcotic (without being narcoleptic) and dreamy, the openers “Waves of Love” through “Stay” really mine a Spacemen 3 vibe, hypnotic and fuzzily psych-ed out bliss with heaps of delayed vocals. Second gear hits on “Going Home” which evokes sweeping dark landscapes, the endless road, the part of driving forever, across the country or on tour as the night and fatigue close in. There is a consistency in the desert-y vibe that evokes shades of Paisley Underground beauty like Early Recordings Opal or Dream Syndicate. Just the perfect song for nocturnal drives. one of my favorites on this incredibly strong and consistent, trippily catchy album. “Coughing” has a country ramble, still propelled by a hypnotic drone, breathy 90’s mumble voiced lyrics snaking around picked notes, lacerated by awesomely restrained fuzz soloing later on. “Tear It Up” delves back into J Spaceman esque territory, maybe with a bit of Love & Rockets in there, straightforwardly rocking in a bluesy drone that never goes to the 5. “Changing Me” emerges from a gorgeous chrysalis of looping noise and throat-sing-y tones into simple major melodies and lazy acoustic strumming. Truly a sunrise moment on an otherwise night-shaded album, very transcendent and uplifting. Closing coda “Big Dreams” a succinct little wordless farewell of a forest of sound, simple guitars and effects creating a living, breathing landscape, tastefully short.
The effect overall of Only Friend is a very deep aural experience, you can either intently lose yourself within it’s folds or allow it to shimmer in the background of a midnight drive or a hazily intimate evening. It’s earnest and, I feel, very honest and at play within the narrow form of acoustic & electric guitars, spare voices and cheap keyboards. Effects aren’t the affectation they can so easily be, but necessary adornments to hooks that beg a re-listen. A beauty, a gem and rare treasure of an album. The Backhomes are currently touring in the US and Canada, check their tour dates here
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