Andrew Vincent is proof positive of the sheer abundance and quality of the music scene in Canada over the last decade, ably demonstrated by The Line Of Best Fit's very own regular feature Oh! Canada. Little known outside his homeland, Rotten Pear is Vincent's fifth album and the first after a five year recording hiatus. Bereft of his former backing band the Pirates, the album is lent an air of intimacy by being recorded at home in Toronto with producer Jarrett Bartlett.
The album veers between gently plucked accoustic numbers and a reconfiguration of garage rock, replete with primal stand up drumming and scratchy guitar, which is counterpointed with Vincent's baleful vocals. Occasionally rambling lyrivs are wedded to subtle subversions of the construct of 'rock' music across the album, culminating in the friction between the subject matter of 'Going Out Tonight' and its breezy, soulful execution. Elsewhere the gossamer thin strands of melody that shift and sway during 'Sleep To Dream' offer a subtle change of pace, as does the cello and woodwind driven title track. Perhaps the only misstep is the cover of Kate Bush's 'Hounds Of Love' which closes the album. The ubiquity of both the original and the Futureheads version mean that while the song isn't 'untouchable' subsequent versions will have to bear comparison. Woozy and somnabulant the song is stripped down to its core elements. A diverting if not entirely successful version, but Vincent has plenty more arrows in the quiver across the album.
Rotten Pear is at its strongest in its striking use of narrative, shifting seamlessly between different modes and themes throughout. The narrators are good time boys with a beer in hand and a quick quip on their lips, losers, drifters, vagrants while the songs are populated by acne scarred youths, wannabe songwriters and down at heel drug addicts. There is a filmic sensibilty to the songs, portrayed in the diner scene in 'Diane' and the barely contained violence of the bar brawl in 'Under Your Thumb'. The existential tension of 'Going Out Tonight' and the irony laden 'Canadian Dream' display a keen sense of Vincent's personality, a Canadian Sisyphus watching a clay covered beer can roll back down to the plain. But while the songs display a weariness and melancholy, Vincent always conjures the right turn of phrase to add warmth to the most desperate situation.
The songs find expression in an emotional, tragic-comic vein. Vincent writes intelligently with clarity of purpose and melody, and across the breadth of the album proves himself adept at capturing the sensation and minutiae of a situation. It is this precisness of the record that lends it such warmth.
"In a sports bar in the middle of town, all the guys gather round, With their sweat pants and acne scars, one by one, they ask you out" ('Hi-Lo')
Vincent's voice has a delightfully lived-in appeal, full of a gentle old-fashioned naivete and the album is testament that a good song and melody needn't claw at the face of your consciousness but can gradually envelop you with a sense of beauty and control. Self-deprecating, funny, occasionally adventurous, nostalgic and beautiful - Rotten Pear proves to be Vincent's most satisfying and complete release to date, mining a deep seam of emotion and experience which deserves a wider audience for his work.This article was originally produced for http://thelineofbestfit.com/. To read the music review of Rotten Pear by Andrew Vincent and explore the rest of the site, please click on the article title.