Hellothisisalex: The Accidentals

Following up on their 2006 EP The Stump Act, Melissa Creasey and Mark Prier return with a new hellothisisalex collection, a half-hour mini-album of ten whimsical electro-pop tracks collectively christened The Accidentals. The so-called ‘new-school analogue kids from smalltown Ontario' (and currently Peterborough residents) fill their jaunty vignettes with so many catchy melodies, they could probably fill a second album. The duo started the group in 2001, performed at MUTEK in 2002, and have released three albums (The Anachim Thorn, The Canadian Spelling Program, Across The River Twin), and so are clearly experienced practitioners. If push came to shove, one might characterize the hellothisisalex sound as somewhat of a Solvent-Marumari hybrid with a dash of Lullatone irreverence thrown in for good measure.

Their emphasis on analogue synthesizer melodies gives their music its polished and pristine sheen, and the album includes a few bird-related songs (e.g., “Birdtalk”) that reflect Creasey's area of academic study (she's currently writing her Master's of Science thesis on Black-throated blue warblers). “Sorry” gets us started with a melancholy little overture of synth flutter and breakbeats, after which “Tablelands” splatters its lilting trip-hop with synthetic fuzz. “The Paper Horse” frames tinkling melodies and the pitter-patter of shuffling drum beats with the lonely whistle of a distant train and a barking dog, while “Good Morning, White Throat! / Goodnight, Swift!” offers an uncharacteristically frenetic swirl of lop-sided beats and off-kilter melodies. “In the Clutches of the Saw-whet Owl” does in three minutes what another group might take three times as long to do. Labyrinthine in nature, the entrancing song channel-surfs between lulling rhythms and wistful waltz tempi like it's the most natural thing in the world. In the multi-layered closer “In Her Head, It's a Symphony, in Her Hands, a Guitar,” saxophones huff and puff alongside arcade synth flourishes before the electronics vanish, leaving a campfire romp of harmonica and vocals in its wake. You'll find precious little po-faced posing on The Accidentals, as Creasey and Prier—as serious as they no doubt are when it comes to their craft—keep the mood refreshingly light.

November 2009