Want to hear something great? Alexisonfire are back for good! Yes, the reunion shows are done, and Canada’s finest purveyors of post-hardcore have announced they’re a proper full-time band once more. Even though they’ve stated there are no plans for the future yet, it’s obviously massively exciting, but it begs one question – with all the other projects the individual members are involved in, what happens to them? That could potentially mean that If I Should Go Before You is the last album from Dallas Green (arguably the most talented member of the group) under the City And Colour moniker. If that is to be the case then, at least he’s going out on a high, as Green’s fifth album is undoubtedly his finest.
There’s a greater focus on full band contributions this time round, seeing the usual folky sound fleshed out a lot more for something a bit fuller and a lot more expansive. Green still acts as the project’s nucleus though, and there’s plenty of room for him to bend it in exactly the way he wants, none more so than in opener Woman, a gorgeous nine minute long track that slithers by with a swelling languidness and heady post-rock influences. It’s the furthest that experimentation reaches on this album, but what it lacks in this department is more made up for in some truly incredible songwriting. Needless to say that would be the case on any City And Colour album, but …Go Before You‘s expansion of sound lifts it to another level entirely. Mizzy C‘s cascading southern-flecked soul condenses more glory and emotion into four minutes than was previously though possible, while the gentle, country-style sway on Lover Come Back makes for a brilliant love song, elevated all the more by its simplicity. Even the most subtle of instrumental additions contribute to the richness in sound, such as the slide guitars hidden in the back of Runaway and the comparatively bare closer Blood, which add just an extra little bit of poignancy to an already beautifully emotional album.
But of course, the main selling point of City And Colour is, and always will be, Green himself, who has not only one of the best voices in alternative music, but music as a whole. There’s not a single moment on this album where he sounds anything less than flawless, with a smoothness to his voice that is unseen in many other artists of his ilk. It’s as evocative and stirring as a vocal performance gets – the mid-tempo Friends shows off a plaintive aspect that has you believing every word, while Northern Blues demonstrates his incredible range in its full glory, from a glorious falsetto right down to a deep rumble. Paired up with such an eclectic blend of instruments, it means that while the majority is rather sedate tempo-wise, it’s these factors than ensure it’s never boring.
Quite the opposite actually – If I Should Go Before You may lack the full-throttle jugular-grabbing of Green’s other band, but it makes thrills in its own way. In its lithe, meandering nature, it manages to truly grip the listener and refuses to let go until it’s finished. Handy, because with all of the emotion and potential resonance it manages to pack in, you’ll never want it to let go – it really is that good. And if it is to be the final City And Colour album, there’s no better way to have gone out than this.
For fans of: Band Of Horses, Hozier, Death Cab For Cutie
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘If I Should Go Before You’ by City And Colour is released on 9th October on Dine Alone Records.