Published Sep 11, 2020Canadian rock duo Figure Walking's newest record, Vertical / Horizontal, delivers straight-ahead indie rock with a pinch of roots music, making it strongly reminiscent of the Tragically Hip. While it does not knock down the walls of the genre, it plays well within them.
Like the White Stripes and the Black Keys before them, Figure Walking are a stripped-down two-piece: Rob Gardiner bangs the drums, while singer Greg MacPherson noodles with the baritone guitar and keys. Their range of instruments is limited, but their range of sounds is not. The guitar tone, for instance, is hazy on "Heavy Rain," fuzzy on "Indonesia," and thrillingly abrasive on "Freaking."
Meanwhile, Gardiner pummels every part of the kit to deliver several interesting beats; they range from being straightforward on songs like "Silver Glow" and "Paradise" to intricate on songs like "Mr. X" and "Freaking."
The well-mixed instrumentation is complemented by MacPherson's high-pitched and meaty vocals. They have an echo effect to them, making it sound like MacPherson is preaching from a podium. They also take a stylistic detour on parts of "In It to Win It," the catchiest song on the album, where they digress into rhythmic and mesmerizing mumbling.
The lyrics do not shy away from some of the darker themes of modern life, providing an interesting contrast to the positive vibes of the music itself.
There are some repetitive melodies on songs like "Colourful," "Silver Glow," and "Gold Coins." For this reason, Vertical / Horizontal isn't consistently engaging. However, it is still the kind of album you could thoroughly enjoy on a weekend road trip with the windows rolled down, as you breathe in the last remnants of summer. (Disintegration)