UNLESS YOU HAIL from the second largest city in Saskatchewan, chances are you have never heard Library Voices. But you will, and soon too. Library Voices certainly are not the first—nor the last—Canadian band to sardine musicians elbow to elbow on tiny stages to fill the night air with inspiring, well-crafted sounds for mass romantics, but they just do it better than the rest.
The Regina, Saskatchewan, septet is rapidly gaining momentum for their second LP, Summer of Lust —yet to be widely available outside the Great White North. As flawless as modern pop recordings come, Summer of Lust was produced by Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes and set to tape in Montreal, but the roots of the 10-song album were established in a more desolate locale.
"We used to have this amazing studio/rehearsal space at home in Regina, but last spring a pipe burst and the entire place was 10-feet deep with water—honestly 10-feet deep, I swear that's not an exaggeration. About 90 percent of the gear we owned was destroyed," explains Library Voices' keyboardist/songwriter Michael Dawson. "Fast forward to last winter and an old town hall in Kronau was literally the only lead we had on a space."
This lonesome plains city of Kronau, population 209 and a town with a cruel sense of irony (with a curling rink, skating rink, and ice cream shop, their economy seems to be entirely ice based), served as a motivational backdrop for the band. "We would lock ourselves away in total isolation and put in these 10-hour-marathon writing sessions," says Dawson. "Going into it I don't think any of us could have imagined the impact it was going to have on the album."
The loosely conceptual Summer of Lust is hyper-literate with bouncy pop numbers that aren't afraid to showcase the band's deep appreciation for the written word. "If Raymond Carver Were Born in the '90s" fittingly opens with a boozy confession ("I'm just waking up/My mouth tastes like rust/I think I'm still drunk"), the vintage tinge of "Be My Juliette Gréco, Paris 1949" is inspired by an affair between Gréco and a youthful Miles Davis, and "Reluctant Readers Make Reluctant Lovers" is pretty self-explanatory.
Library Voices' bibliobsession is sincere, even if Dawson & Co. worry it might be perceived differently. "We've joked quite a bit about how we probably would have never called the band Library Voices if we'd have known so many literary references would turn up in the songs. I'm always worried it will come across as gimmicky, although I suppose the Beach Boys had a gimmick and things worked out all right for them."
Dawson continues, "We were really conscious going into this album to keep the structures and arrangements streamlined, which meant at best I'd have 12 or 16 lines to say my piece—making reference to authors, who have said things better than I ever could, helps to fill in the gaps in my lyrics. Without a doubt I can say the two things that have influenced my life the most are the records I loved as a young adult and the books I've read as I continue to attempt to drag out my youth. I suppose it's like taking a mistress—it was only a matter of time before my two loves found each other."
Of course, any lit-friendly band worth their weight in dog-eared paperbacks already has a tourist pilgrimage planned when they visit our city. As Dawson explains, "Our Portland date is actually the second show of a tour that keeps us on the road well into November, so you had better believe we will be stopping by Powell's to stock up."