On 2017's As Long as Your Eyes Are Wide, Juno Award-winning indie pop/rockers Said the Whale were pared down to a trio and traded their provincial overcast indie folk for something a little more sleek and refined. Enlisting Cayne McKenzie of fellow Vancouver outfit We Are the City to produce, the band's first foray into electronic pop didn't completely leave their homespun predilections behind; rather, it absorbed them. On Cascadia, the group's sixth studio effort and first outing for Arts & Crafts, those proclivities are reversed, and the results feel more in line with earlier works like Little Mountain and Hawaii, though the heftier sonic imprint of its predecessor remains prevalent. Opener "Wake Up" makes the best case for both scenarios, delivering a galvanizing statement of intent via convulsive percussion and rambling staccato verses that yield a monster earworm chorus. Nervy follow-up "UnAmerican" hews closer to the Mother Mother-style electro-alt-rock of Eyes Are Wide, as does the spicy, post-punk-pillaging "Record Shop," but the hazy title track, a pastiche of surf's-up '70s pop and road trip-ready indie rock, brings things back into the misty Pacific Northwest. The band displays some considerable pop acumen on the stripped-down "Broken Man," a galloping power pop gem that would've fit snugly somewhere on Fleetwood Mac's Tusk. The 12-track set has some anodyne moments -- the insular and stylized "Old Soul, Young Heart" and the lovely yet moribund closer "Gambier Island Green" -- but even at its most ephemeral, Cascadia feels fully realized.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger