Album review: Said the Whale – Little Mountain

By Benedict Reiners

Said the Whale branches out from their original sound while remaining true to the Vancouver zeitgeist

Following in the footsteps of Dan Mangan, another B.C. actgaining international recognition, Said the Whale will be performing at the Sasquatch Music Festival this year. This comes after the release of their new album, Little Mountain, last week.

Little Mountain may seem mildly foreign to some who have followed the band in years past, with many tracks differing from past hits like “Camilo (The Magician)” off their album Islands Disappear, and more recently, “Lines”, a track off their New Brighton EP, which was released November last year.

However, even those who have been listening to the band for years will quickly adapt to their new, more diverse sound. This diversity is reflected both in each arrangement, with the use of additional instruments, notably brass, and the mood of each piece being played, including the haunting chants of “Safe Harbour” and soft melodies of “Seasons”.

Long-time and new listeners alike will appreciate “We Are 1980”, which revisits and build on the successes of their previous rock-heavy tracks.

The most notable change between Little Mountain and Said the Whale’s previous work is in the vocals. This record sees members other than frontmen Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft taking on more visible roles in the music. This progression is especially defined by the final song “Seasons”, in which both keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown and drummer Spencer Schoening are featured in the vocals. Adding to this is Brown’s solo parts in the track “Loveless”. The increased use of other members shows the band settling into its setup and developing more cohesion as a band, resulting in greater musical diversity.

Collaboration between local talents is afoot throughout the putting-together of Little Mountain. The Zolas’ Tom Dobrzanski produced the album, while independent film production company Amazing Factory created accompanying music videos for each song.

All told, Little Mountain is a departure from their traditional sound, but still builds off of it. Though that may be initially a bit disheartening for old fans, once one’s listened to the album all the way through, it’s clear that it proves that just because it hasn’t been tried, doesn’t mean it’s not true.