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Kevin Drew has released his second solo album, Darlings.

Norman Wong

3 out of 4 stars

Kevin Drew
Arts & Crafts

When Feist sang How Come You Never Go There, as she nicely did on her Metals album from 2011, she wasn't questioning Kevin Drew.

Drew, who works with cool chick Feist within the sprawling indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene – or is it the broken social scene called Sprawling Indie-Rock Collective? One can never keep these things straight – has released his second solo album, Darlings.

The opening song of this comfortable record involves a discreet and intimate massage, "Get the body butter, baby, let's go party all alone." The single Good Sex follows. And then, It's Cool: "In our land of a woman's dream, can we lie down with our self it seems / Reach our hand down below our waist, and give thanks and praise for all we taste."

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So, yeah, Kevin Drew goes there.

He has made a charming, agreeable record, one that is different and smaller than 2007's Spirit If…, which involved a large cast of collaborators. This one seems more solo – minimalist, with occasional electro bubbles and many 10 CC-sized helpings of love, from this soulful rock 'n' roll romantic. Songs don't always feel fully developed, but that's just because they're not. That's kind of his thing

On Mexican Aftershow Party, all snapped beats and moody synths from a Gary Numan garage sale, Drew is inviting, but not pressuring.

Good Sex glides to a pleasing groove, the piano accents perk things up, and the tune is about as hummable a thing as Drew has ever written. Not that he's any Herman Hupfield or John Legend or anything.

I once bumped into Drew at a War on Drugs concert. It's possible he walked away from that band's show with a new song of his own in his head. Something like the stoned, chilled vibe of the self-descriptive It's Cool, perhaps.

Bullshit Ballad is not self-descriptive. It bop-rocks like an Arcade Fire outtake as it condemns trite emotive pop. "I heard you on the radio with your bullshit ballad," Drew sings, maybe about John Legend, but not about Herman Hupfield.

I should probably mention Feist again. On the low-riding My God, she accompanies with harmony – lovely, it almost goes without saying. Drew sings about poets whom he attracts, noting that they are "not us." He is a poet, though, in his own way – the cool kids' Lovers Spit-singing seducer and guru. As he puts it, "I got a river full of darlings who connect to the words in my gut."

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Drew is 37. Seven years ago he wanted to party with us on Spirit If…, but now he wants to take a bath with us. Whichever is fine, really – or maybe both at the same time. His fans, one might assume, like it that way.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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