Some albums can be defined entirely by their lyrics. In the case of Hamilton’s The Human Orchestra, their new EP is easy to explain: “I can’t get you out of my head.” The four-song album is a masterpiece of earworms. These songs are catchy and hypnotic, easy to stick in your head and find a home there. Lip Service is an album to love, cherish and listen to on repeat, and with real diversity and cohesion, The Human Orchestra is a band to go down as a major contributor to Canadian music.
Released in August 2012, Lip Service is fantastic from start to finish. It’s full of sound and talent, with 12 band members rounding out the orchestra and giving the album a diverse and well-rounded power. It’s got everything: horns, banjos, keyboards and guitars, and the pieces all work together to create something strong and interesting without being too overpowering. If anything it’s just cool; you’ll find something new every time you listen and eventually you’ll start making trumpet noises along with the tracks. That’s just how the album works: it seems real and alive, and it’s something you’ll become part of.
Everything about the album is great. The band has put obvious heart into these tracks and each piece is carefully thought out while still natural and passionate. They could be compared to a mix of Arcade Fire and Of Monsters and Men, big sounds with folky,”indie”-like songwriting. One of the standout features of the album is the voice of lead singer JB Reed, whose unique vocals offer a bluesy twang to the songs and create the band’s recognizable sound. Her voice is magic. It’s kind of eerie at times (“The Winter Song”), sassy in others (“Heavy Handed Heart”), and sometimes soft (“In The Middle”). No matter what, it’s fun and easy to sing along with, and that makes for a catchy and loveable album.
Something really needs to be said for the songwriting as well. With so many band members and so many contributions, The Human Orchestra deserves a real tip-of-the-hat for their ability to create such rich tracks and subtle arrangements. They fall somewhere between simple and complicated, seeming effortless until you consider the multiple layers and pieces that make up each song. It’s fantastic, it really is, and it’s definitely worth a listen or two (or fifty). It would be great to hear a full-length album from the band to see what other diversity and sound they have in store, but this is a great introduction to their potential as a major artist.
Lip Service is available on iTunes, BandCamp, Amazon, and pretty well anywhere you look. Follow them on Facebook and wish them luck at the Hamilton Music Awards November 18, where they’re nominated for New Artist/Group of the Year! The Human Orchestra is destined for great things and this album is the first step to take them there.