Acclaimed Canadian power-pop band Said The Whale has been on the music scene since 2007, releasing 4 studio albums and garnering a Juno Award for New Group of the Year in 2011. Fourth album hawaiii… (No, that isn’t a misspellinggg…) is an enjoyable and mostly upbeat sonic listen with harmony-rich vocal melodies that recall earlier musical styles. Songs are tight, catchy, and polished, and filled with poignant, thought-provoking lyrics that belie the sunny vibes of the power-pop aligned tunes.
It’s difficult to catch all the lyrical nuances by ear only, but a read-through of the lyrics sheet shows that the two songwriters and singers, Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, are occupied with personal and powerful issues like the loss of a parent, the detrimental effects of smoking, and the inherent complexities of familial relationships. What could come across on paper as bleak or bittersweet turns upbeat when sung by Tyler with assured conviction. A questioning wistfulness does creep into Ben’s quieter tracks like the more experimental “Resolutions” with its speedy beat set against reverberating, spacey, textured sounds and the trip-hop-inflected “Oh Kay” with its sharply-timed, elevated vocal harmonies.
That being said, this album is in the main sonically fun, swimming in sing-along pop songs like the super-pumped-up, undeniably infectious “I Love You” and the manic, jam-packed-with-lyrics “Mother” (“Don’t tell my mother / until I pull myself together.”) The imprint of Weezer marks both those songs, while the Beach Boys influence materializes on songs like “Willow” with its surf style and breezy harmonies.