The fourth long-player from amiable indie rockers Said the Whale finds the Canadian quintet offering up another engaging set of homespun and heartfelt confections full of sharp, melodic twists and turns, and peppered with quirky, yet bittersweet musings that reflect a climate prone to overcast days. Featuring an infectious single in "I Love You," a radio-ready summer pop gem that pits the calculated, stripped-down propulsion of Spoon against the explosive chorus building of fellow Vancouverites Mother Mother, Hawaiii is the band's most well-crafted, and deliberately misspelled collection of songs to date. One of the band's greatest strengths is that it employs two extremely capable songwriters, and as was the case on 2012's Little Mountain, the load is spread pretty evenly between Ben Worcester's self-deprecating, conversational prose and Tyler Bancroft's fluid, pop-perfect croon. The arrangements are more ornate this time around as well, which is befitting of a band that’s hot off of a Juno Award for best new artist. Carefully constructed harmonies abound, especially on standout cuts like the resplendent “Mother,” which sounds like the Vaccines inoculated by the Beach Boys, and the richly detailed, multi-layered “Willow,” which sounds like the Beach Boys inoculated by the Vaccines. Elsewhere, the band explores icy, textural electro-pop on the languid “Resolutions,” staccato Vampire Weekend-inspired, pre-adulthood angst on “I Could Smoke,” and finally, the cruel and beautiful crush of existence on the penultimate and final tracks, “Helpless Son” and the lovely, Lucksmiths-esque “Weight of the Season,” the latter of which is as moving and evocative as anything the band has released to date.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger
feat: Shadrach Kabango