Thinking back, it was some night in late November when I found myself at Radio Radio reviewing yet another hazy rock show. This one was headlined by Montreal's Besnard Lakes; the night's crowd was slightly skimpy, but I guess that's to be expected on the eve of Thanksgiving. Leading up to the show I had done my usual research on the acts — admittedly more so on the headlining out-of-towners.
In hindsight, it was local openers Street Spirits that really got me drooling. Yeah, those Canadian dudes were cool and all, but Todd Heaton's ambient dream pop was what left me hungry for more. I was ready for a full-length then and there.
But we all know what they say about good things and waiting, and all that. Thankfully no longer: Victoria's River, the debut full-length from Street Spirits arrived this week, showcasing Heaton and Co.'s masterful knack for creating cavernous pop gold. Recorded by his brother Wesley (who also plays on the album and in the group's live lineup) at Queensize Recording Studio, the album's atmospheric enchantment holds throughout all ten tracks of the release, which provide an excellent twist on the traditional dream pop sound.
For Todd (KO, Our Imaginary Friends, PONS), this dream pop venture began as a solo project in 2011 with an EP titled, Todd Heaton's Street Spirits. Written and recorded in a small studio apartment in Woodruff Place, the release's central themes were derived from suburban teen experiences.
With Victoria's River, Heaton again welcomes listeners into his wistful echo chamber, this time, inviting others in the process to bring us this excellent collection of glimmering pop goodness. Mixed mostly by Tyler Watkins (Margot and The Nuclear So and So's) and mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road, the soundscapes Heaton lays out on Victoria's River are polished beautifully, making this release a true treat.
The album's opening "Intro" meets the listener with swells of spacious beauty. It's one of three well-constructed instrumentals on Victoria's River; the fluttering track leads into "Alone And In Love," an album standout, which ultimately reaches a peak of ghostly "oo's" and gusting echoes. One of the album's two interludes follows Heaton's opening movement. In the case of Victoria's River, Heaton's use of interludes is tactfully meditated, crystalizing the album. A few tracks later lies a sweet little number called "She Loves Everyone," featuring glittery keys and bouncy rhythm.
The album closes out with a few of Heaton's older songs (four of which were revamped for this album). "I saw your shadow and told you to come down," he sings on "Your Love," a darkly tinged track that culminates with perfect screeching feedback. Next, "Killed It" appropriately concludes the stellar release, as Heaton yet again entrances the listener with swirling gusts of cavernous magic.
The wait was worth it for this stellar local release.