Across the Board - Sonic Boom
If there’s any justice in the music world, Sonic Boom will end 2018 rating high on a lot of lists as one of the best indie releases this year. Jacqueline Auguste and her band mates turn in a breathtakingly unified effort with this eight song collection that combines real rock and roll entertainment with a clearly elevated, intelligent approach to album construction and songwriting that marks them as distinctly different from their contemporaries. The band first came together in 2013 and have rapidly established themselves as one of the finest musical exports in recent memory from Canada, but this album sets them up to take their name places where it hasn’t been heard before and exponentially expand on their fan base. They are an active touring act and there’s no question many of these songs will figure prominently into their future set lists.
They kick the album off with a thoughtful start on the title song. Guitars figure into the arrangement, for sure, but the first song makes it clear that strong percussion is going to be an important piece in the album’s musical puzzle. The production from Darnell Toth accentuates the drumming with some post-production effects, but it’s the intense rhythmic heart and unerring sense of time in the playing that proves crucial.
“I’ve Already Fallen For You” ratchets up the intensity some without ever veering far away from the template laid out in the title song. There’s no doubt that this track is a classic love song with a distinctly modern edge, but Auguste’s profoundly human vocal crackles with passion and often quavering emotional sensitivity. One of the biggest choruses of the album comes with the song “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard” and Auguste really bears down there with considerable authority and there’s a real cracker of a guitar solo, albeit brief, in the song’s second half.
Guitarist Ben Healey shines on the acoustic cut “No Curtain Call” and the depth of emotion invoked here, both lyrically and vocally, is a really memorable moment on Sonic Boom. The track “Nothing to Say” is meant to represent the “hit” song that a rising act would score on their way up and it’s definitely one of the best stand-alone moments on the release.
The album’s late highlight comes with the song “Kite”. The band opts for a cover here, taking on a U2 song from their relatively recent album All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and it’s an emotionally revealing effort that doesn’t sound like a cover at all, though they definitely retain some fidelity to the Irish band’s original. Across the Board’s Sonic Boom is a thoroughly satisfying release on every level while still showing a band who is beginning to just touch on the true breadth of their potential. The theme driving the songwriting never falls apart and the songs are held together by an uniformly consistent approach to production that highlights their strengths in an artful, tasteful fashion. You won’t go wrong with forking over some money for this release.