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The Sadies The Sadies
Album: Northern Passages
Label: Yep Roc
Tracks: 11

Since singer-guitarist siblings Dallas and Travis Good, bassist Sean Dean and drummer Mike Belitsky first appeared on the Canadian scene 20 years ago, The Sadies have always kept their fans on their musical toes, never quite knowing what you expect next. That holds true of Northern Passages, their 10th studio album, which opens with the feathery, close harmony folk pop of 'Riverview Fog' recalling Wasn't Born To Follow era Byrds, only to be followed by the raucous psychedelic garage rock squall of 'Another Season Again' and, in turn, the equally noisy echoey psych-blues 'There Are No Words', although, midway through, its distortion and feedback suddenly gives way to a gradually slowing country twang. They pull off the same transforming trick with the five plus minutes of 'The Elements Song', the swirling folk pychedelia giving way to an acid rock guitar jam

So, no disappointments here, then. And it gets better. On 'It's Easy (Like Walking)' they turn to a Neil Young groove, guest vocalist Kurt Vile bringing his own bottle to the party, Through Strange Eyes is back to quintessential fuzzed Byrds, while 'God Bless The Infidels' is a fiddle-driven tempo-shifting waltz about religious (as in Christian) intolerance for all sweethearts of the rodeo.

The final stretch gets underway with the cosmic guitars and brushed snare of the lyrically melancholic 'The Good Years', a jangly baroque-pop tinged 'As Above, So Below', another Youngian country blues tock touch on 'Questions I Never Asked' and, finally, 'The Noise Museum', a cinematic instrumental that aptly provides a sonic equivalence to the Aurora Borealis of the front cover. Navigate with confidence.

Mike Davies