This past February, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada’s own Courage My Love released “Synesthesia” via InVogue Records! It is a completely different direction, which I believe gives a fresh set of eyes and a fresh set of ears for the trio out of Kitchener!
Courage My Love is composed of twin sisters Mercedes Arn-Horn(guitars/vocals) and Phoenix Arn-Horn(drums/vocals), and Brandon Lockwood on bass guitar. They will be embarking on a European tour before embarking on the Vans Warped Tour this summer! When I interviewed the band at a bar/grill in Des Moines, they described the feeling of “Synesthesia” as the sensation that triggers your senses when a memory is brought back. For example, in terms of food, it might bring a person back to Grandmother’s house and remembering the smells and tastes of Grandmother’s cooking. Obviously, this album is a lot deeper than the metaphor that I attempted to utilize in describing this feeling.
I love the intro into the album of “Synesthesia”. The title track sounds like an old-school transistor radio or an AM radio that is trying to place the antenna correctly where the right frequencies come in. As I go into this review, I’m reminding my readers that this is somewhat of a departure from their previous material that brought you “Bridges”, “Kerosene”, and “Cold Blooded”, this has more of a pop/alternative rock flavor as evident in “Animal Heart”. “I’m going to tear you limb from limb, just so I can touch your skin” croons Mercedes into a beautiful ambiance of synthesizers. I love how it really picks up during the chorus. It still has the catchiness that Courage My Love is well versed for, except previous Courage My Love fans will immediately notice the change in direction from their previous material to “Synesthesia”, and that is definitely an okay thing, it shows me that Courage My Love are songwriters and musicians first.
“Synesthesia” continues to offer that beautiful contrast between the lighthearted arrangements and musicianship with their noticeably darker lyrics, in particular in the songs “Walls” and “Stereo”. Again, there is more of a pop catchiness in both songs, however, in “Walls”, the guitar hook that kicks in at the beginning of the song will cause the listener to move about in place and the chorus is absolutely astounding in that track. I love the harmonies that almost bring about an 80’s feel to it before the verse kicks in. I love how seamless the tempo transition changes are in “Walls”. The chorus is so haunting, “If these walls could speak, I hope they don’t tell on me/All the secrets that they could keep/you were everything to me”, talk about a punch to the breadbasket. That is a feeling that we all go through. “Stereo” offers even more synthesizers that are definitely appropriate and greatly enhance the song. The chorus is definitely filled with pop hooks that are so infectious. “Drowning”, “Need Someone”, and “The Year I Disappeared” are heartbreaking songs that seem to be talking about someone that is having a difficult time coping with the thoughts that are associated with depression. Good for Courage My Love for tackling difficult subjects in this record.
This is a friendly change of direction from their previous material, which shows me that Courage My Love is about wanting to expand their horizons as songwriters and musicians, and that is okay. The progression from a total punk band to more of a pop/rock completely makes sense for this band as this is album really showcases their maturation as songwriters and musicians. I am telling you that “Synesthesia” grows on you like the most beautiful infectious way possible, the songs are incredibly catchy, the hooks and melodies are even more contagious, and the arrangements simply serve the song in the most meaningful way. This album is another contender for Record of the Year due to the fact that it grows on me with each listen, therefore it’s a 5 star rating! Any album that tackles difficult topics with authenticity and leaves their soul bare is definitely worth the listen. That is the beauty of Courage My Love. They know how to make that contrast between being vulnerable in the songs they write and they sing those songs with an abundant amount of power behind the songs. Check out the track listing below!
“Synesthesia” by Courage My Love
- “Animal Heart”
- “Love Hurts”
- “Tough Love”
- “Two Headed Monster”
- “Sight Sound”
- “Need Someone”
- “The Year I Disappeared”
- “Never Gonna Change”
- “Taste Touch”
Check out the music video to “Need Someone” below!
Check out Courage My Love at the following tour dates on their U.K. tour with Halflives:
Wednesday, May 31st at Talking Heads in Southampton
Thursday, June 1st at The Exchange in Bristol
Friday, June 2nd at Cobblestones in Bridgwater
Saturday, June 3rd- 2017 Camden Rocks Festival in London
Sunday, June 4th- Rebellion in Manchester
Monday, June 5th- The Mash House in Edinburgh
Tuesday, June 6th- Santiago’s in Leeds
Wednesday, June 7th- The Met in Peterborough
Friday, June 8th- The Harp Restrung in Folkestone
Check out Courage My Love at the following locations:
ICYMI: Check out our interview with Courage My Love here.