This Kingston guitar-drums duo are a lot more than they appear to be on the surface. And what exactly is that? Take a quick spin through Meet Me At The Muster Station, their half-hour-long debut, and you are greeted by what seems to be a fairly standard-issue indie rock album (right down to the lyric-quoting album title, a line from Super Furry Animals’ 1997 tune “Down A Different River”). The vocals yelp and crack like Spencer Krug's (Wolf Parade) younger brother and the general proceedings are fast, frenetic and pretty catchy. But truth be told, you’d be forgiven for feeling that it gets by more on the novelty of "we’re only two people!" than anything terribly remarkable. Except...
Scratch below the duo tag a bit more, and something truly impressive emerges: the postscript that is Paul Saulnier. Nothing against the very steady drumming of Benjamin Nelson, but Saulnier is a bit of a minor revelation. Potentially, he’s one of the most unlikely underground guitar heroes this country will ever produce. An unassuming bespectacled hirsute teddy bear of a guy, he is a goddamn powerhouse on this thing, handling vocals, manic guitar freakouts AND bass pedals simultaneously—a feat he pulls off live just as well. As No Age's usage of sampler and hot sheets of white noise brings interest to their take on the guitar/drum rock duo, PS I Love You's nearly one-man wrecking crew Saulnier brings an expressive range that many of his contemporaries simply can't match without copious overdubs and samples. You'd be hard pressed to find a two-piece that sounds this full—it's kind of insane. And even though the short songs don't give him much room to stretch out, dude is clearly a hell of a guitarist, with the shredding bridges of "Facelove" and "Butterflies and Boners" suggesting he could even push into Marnie Stern territory.
So once an appreciation of this guy's talents settles in, how does this record change? It's still definitely a debut album, its brevity occasionally getting in the way of what could be some truly exciting detours. And the messy, sticky production sometimes does the band a bit of a disservice—musicians this capable don't need layers of reverb and fuzz to help glue their sound together. Simply put, some of these parts would hit a bit harder if they were a little clearer. But whether or not the buzz around them hits the level of fellow Canuck guitar/drum duo (and tourmates) Japandroids, I like their chances of turning into a lasting concern a lot more than those guys. Meet Me At The Muster Station could be the launching pad for a band that merges the kinetic sugar rush of basement pop, the on-the-fly improvisation of a two-piece, and the sheer virtuosity of a guitar hero. I’d say its worth hitching a ride to see how it all turns out.
(PS I Love You are playing an in-store here at Soundscapes on Tue. Oct 26 at 7pm in advance of their show with Diamond Rings later that night at The Garrison, which we also have tickets to!)