In American music, the history of importing Canadian acts has run the gamut of amazing talent to something significantly less than. Not all music that travels south can be fantastic. For every Neil Young, there is a Nickelback.
While Toronto-grown Like Pacific’s latest release, Distant Like You Asked, may not quite hit that Neil Young level, it happily is nowhere near the dreaded Nickelback line.
Bassist Chris Thaung said that working with producer Sam Guaiana at Room 21 Sound in Toronto “really brought out the best” of Like Pacific. Listening to Distant Like You Asked, it’s hard to argue against this. The band sounds very tight. Layering of vocals provides a great deal of depth, allowing songs like the opening track “Richmond” to seem bigger and, at times, anthem-like. These vocals bounce back and forth easily between aggressive near-shouts and softer melodic singing, and the instrumentation easily compliments this with seamless transitions between palm-muted chords and gentle strums into the heavily distorted.
Throughout the album, this system is kept intact, but this does not distract from Like Pacific’s ability to craft a catchy refrain. Even during the heaviest parts of every song, there remains a strong pop-sensibility to the melodies. When singer Jordan Black hits his heaviest marks in lead single “Worthless Case,” you find his bellows getting caught in your head as well as any pop song. Each song is innately danceable with hooks that have been well-thought out and seem to be intricately planned.
One of the biggest strengths of the band is the crisp instrumentation. While it would be easy to end up with a muddy sound with as many strong layers as the band provides, each song shows precise playing that evokes strong emotion and at the same time demonstrates a strong ear for composition. In “22a,” a bridge that could have been a routine break akin to one of the thousands that bands similar to Like Pacific have provided, a rolling snare drum part breaks the monotony and creates one of the more unique and interesting parts of the album. The intro into “Dim” from “Chine Drive” showcases a simple yet strong bass line before building into one of the best guitar parts the album provides. Distant Like You Asked is sprinkled with instrumental gems like this.
If there is one flaw to be pointed out, it would be that Distant Like You Asked finds Like Pacific focused on aggressively hammering home each song. The respites from the most aggressive sections are short-lived. It isn’t until the fifth track of the album that you find a gentler side to the band. That is quickly replaced by an aggressive chorus.
This lack of tenderness is one of the album’s biggest assets as well. The emotion is strong in every song. When Black declares that his body “is a doormat” in “Commitment,” there is no doubt of the frustration felt at that moment in time. There is not one moment of the album that you feel that any of the emotion demonstrated by the band is contrived. In any genre, sincerity is the biggest strength an act can have and Like Pacific’s forceful demeanor has this in loads.
While many of these tracks do not stand out from the glut of pop-punk inspired tunes that seem to be on the rise these days, they do prove that Like Pacific has the ability to hang with almost any band in the genre. The band’s new found maturity on the album has been touted and it shows that they are beginning the process of mastering their craft. It is not hard to imagine a world where Like Pacific has conquered pop-punk.
Distant Like You Asked will be released February 19 and is available for preorder now at PureNoise.net.