The Vancouver band's second full-length, "Tiger Talk," is not quite a concept album, though its 10 songs do seem to trace the path of a single relationship from giddy inception to pained demise. The relationship is a subtext to broader statements about innocence and idealism and the intoxicating effect of gleaming guitars and floorboard-rattling drum beats. "Sometimes I think there's no distance in between our conversations, baby, and your dreams," proclaims singer Jeff Innes on lead cut "My Girl." These songs carry a flag that was easier to wave when we were younger, when we were fresh-faced with no scars: Rock is life and life is rock. Rock can save.
To say a bit about the actual sounds on the record, it's tempting to make a laundry list of obvious touchstones, most of which were household names before the members of Yukon Blonde were born. But such a list would be neither interesting nor an accurate portrayal. Rollicking licks slink and slide off the lead guitar. The bass doesn't hold on to the backbeat as much as it kicks it about. And there's a truckload of pitch-perfect vocal harmonies, synthesizers, reverb and nods to the Great American Rock Songbook. Used any less skillfully, these would be clichés. Here, they're warm and invigorating.
And then there's the relationship, which, of course, doesn't end well. "I know I can't be your man," goes the refrain of the final cut. But when the record ends and you drop the needle on side A again, fatalism is dissolved by a shot of clear-eyed optimism. "Tiger Talk" at times honestly paints the hard truths of love and loss, but in the end it's joyfully myopic. Whether positive conviction will take us where we want to go is debatable, but at least we'll be happier along the way.
"Tiger Talk" will be released on March 20 on Dine Alone Records.