In 2011 Toronto’s Careers in Science unleashed the marvellous seven-track EP Whateverwolf on the unsuspecting public. At the time I was rather enamored by this band and the relatively unassuming approach it took towards releasing a wonderful concoction of punk, rock and indie music. As time went by, my feelings for those seven tracks increased as they became a permanent fixture in my musical habitat and I frequently turned to them for some aural pleasure.
A year or so on from that EP, Careers in Science delivers a dozen tracks (including six from that first release, all having been significantly reworked) that basically cements the band's status as “one I always enjoy listening to” firmly into position. Some may claim that having six previously released tracks on an album displays an element of laziness, but when the original EP was produced in small numbers and the fact that all the half a dozen songs now possess more punch and presence than they did 12 months ago, then I’ve got no complaints.
The older songs do seem to have much more of an impact here. “Konami Code of Conduct” being a prime example, and in some cases it also seems as if they’ve been sped up a touch, which creates a more punk-sounding output. Dave Procter occasionally showcases a vocal sound akin to that of Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati. I feel that the band has definitely moved on a good few steps with this, their debut long player.
Everything about Foreverwolf smacks of improvement: the guitar has an edgier feel, the bass is more noticeable, the drums retain the distinctive clout found on Whateverwolf. Yet even Eric Bourque’s percussive drive seems to sit in the mix in a more appropriate way. The production job on this album is pretty damn good, letting each element come to life without taking over and hogging the limelight, thus helping the songs come across as coherent pieces of work. As already noted, Procter’s voice goes through a number of incarnations from quite a strained delivery at times, as found on “Damaged Men,” to the more Pezzati-like as heard on “Suri-Cruise Missile” and the inclusion of a number of dimensions throughout the album is a joy to hear.
For me, Careers in Science seem to have nailed their colors to a more distinctive punk sound and I think the group has benefited from doing so. There are still elements that have a rockier quality (the opening guitar salvo for “Hardcore Nice Guy” clearly demonstrates that they know how to rock in addition to some heavy riffing at various moments) but across the board there are rougher attributes at work showing a more determined and angrier side to the band. The other thing I like about Careers in Science is that the band really does have quite a unique sound, making them stand out from the crowd and deserving of some widespread attention.
Let’s not forget the humor this band infuses its songs with--it was clearly in play on Whateverwolf and can still be found here, within the new songs as well as the old, although it’s not all about the laughs, as songs like “Elizabeth Brown” prove. Here, Proctor is able to vent his feelings towards a Toronto resident of that name who objected to plans to rebuild a neighboring house allowing it to be made accessible for one of its owners, who was a quadriplegic, and he does so in an effective way. The amusing thing about this song is that it’s in the form of a schadenfreude-like letter from the local Records Office to the aforementioned Elizabeth Brown informing her of the loss of her own legs and subsequent inability to make alterations to her own home. The message is clearly a serious one but is delivered in a clever way: this is a great song and displays the kind of anger that we all feel at the selfishness displayed by so many people, in so many ways these days.
Finally, check out “Patchwork Children,” which was the big anthemic song on the EP and in its new form has been enhanced to a new level, with huge singalong moments rammed into a cacophony of sound, bringing the album to a frenetic close. I doff my metaphoric hat to these canny Canadians for being able to raise their game, thus ensuring that this fanboy is even more infatuated with them and their musical output.
This is available for download now via Bandcamp but a vinyl release will be out at the start of July.