There is an unsettling juxtaposition between dueling vocalists Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis of the Canadian blues-rock five-piece July Talk that keeps listeners engaged throughout their latest album Touch. While Fay’s vocals are soft and sultry, they are immediately cut by the demonic growl of Dreimanis, and aural example of the ancient philosophy of yin and yang. On Touch, July Talk expands far past the garage blues of their debut album, incorporating a new pop sensibility to their grating brand of rock. Reminiscent of recent releases by fellow blues rock bands such as The Kills, July Talk come into their own with Touch with intimidating confidence along with their authentic bluesy swagger.
What keeps every song on Touch so engaging is how they all change moods at the drop of a hat. From the very first song “Picturing Love,” we are assured that Touch will be an unpredictable experience if nothing else. Thankfully, July Talk turns these inconstancies into volatile tunes that leaves us begging for more. Starting the album with a jaunty piano melody on “Picturing Love,” we are lulled into a false sense of security before Dreimanis growls, “I’m tired of pictures on a screen, I’m tired of picturing love.” Fay comes in with an explosive harmony that gets toes tapping with their ineffable swagger. The rest of the album plays out in a similar fashion, but remains characteristically erratic throughout. The rollicking guitar riff of “Beck + Call” becomes playful with the help of Fay’s soft coos, but driving when Dreimanis grunts his parts.
While the two singers have their own distinct personalities, the two cleanly meld together to keep the energy consistent. Fay has no problems letting loose and rocking out on tracks such as “Lola Joseph,” while Dreimanis naturally lets up on his guttural growls on more pop-centric tracks. It is in the driving danceablity of songs such as the disco-tinged “Push Pull” and “Now I Know” the breaks up the album’s pattern of dark and light. While Dreimanis has a tendency to overshadow Fay at times, she remains one of the band’s core strengths in the way she instills pop smarts into the band’s punky, danceable blues.
July Talk has said that “Push + Pull” is the most dynamic song they have ever written, but it could easily be said that Touch is chock full of the band’s most expansive, vigorous material to date. Only a band with the polar opposing forces of July Talk can make an album as catchy as it is unsettling.