Having spent more than two decades as Canada’s most revered roots-rock act, Blue Rodeo no longer has any great external incentives to tinker with its trademark sound, which combines meandering, sunny pop melodies with some doggedly polite country-inflected arrangements. Still, on their 11th proper studio album, The Things We Left Behind, the quintet does take a few rewarding risks that make for a slightly more interesting effort than many other Americana records in this vein. While the band makes a couple of surprising choices in their production (the subtle use of a tympani drum on opener “All the Things That Are Left Behind” gives the song a bit more heft than it would have had otherwise, and “One More Night” boasts a terrific Wurlitzer break), the overall tone of these Things is fairly staid and reserved. Spread over two discs and spanning over 80 minutes, the album is a whole lot of what it is: Some of the superfluous, interchangeable midtempo songs like “Waiting for the World” and “Wasted” could have been cut without any great loss, making for a far less unwieldy, tedious record. Ultimately, Things comes to life in uptempo cuts like “Sheba” and “Arizona Dust” that balance the band’s pop sensibilities with their tempered cynicism and two epic-length songs, “Million Miles” and the prog-inspired “Venus Rising.” It’s these moments of greater wit and ambition that suggest Blue Rodeo is still capable of recording more than just a pleasant, north-of-the-border variation on the same album their American counterpart, the Jayhawks, have been re-recording for years.
- Release Date
- January 26, 2010
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