Give it up for pep-rock. There’s a skill in keeping your music upbeat without paying heed to whatever darker tendencies lurk in your fringes. For their newest release, Brooklyn’s The Canon Logic serve up five tracks of steadfastly positive-sounding pop, all while lyrically exploring what the band describes as themes of fear, solitude, risk, and perseverance.
Rapid Empire is the EP-sized followup to The Canon Logic’s 2010 debut album, FM Arcade. The hooky melodies and fat vocal harmonies are still here, but the jangly piano leads have been tuned down in favor of a more balanced, occasionally guitar-driven mix. For fans familiar with The Canon Logic’s last album, Rapid Empire is more in tune with FM Arcade’s Dead Man than Nights at Armour Mansion or Avenue of Criminals. This seems more like a natural developmental step in their sound than a conscious effort to change their formula; in either case, it’s a forward direction for what was already a fun musical approach.
Rapid Empire (Am I M.I.A.) is the best of the disc’s five offerings, highlighted by a head-bobbing chorus and gloriously aerial backing harmonies; the song is wonderfully punctuated by a brief guitar solo served in a warm envelope of comforting fuzz. The EP’s darker themes surface in Howl in the Night, which includes the chorus, Fire’s in the sky/Can you feel it?/Hell’s about to rise/And it’s real, I can feel it – very dark subject matter for a song so danceable. The lyrics often teeter toward the surreal, such as the chorus to No Domino: Then I see the boy named Rio/His head was teeming with mosquitoes.
Rapid Empire is a good, if short, collection of new songs from The Canon Logic, and it displays the band’s forward progress in the year since their debut album. It’s a very promising sampler; let’s hope a new full-length is announced sometime in the near future.
Essential Songs: Rapid Empire (Am I M.I.A.), No Domino