A title like The Chase begs the question: chasing what? The album is purposefully coy in providing an answer, but one can rule out ‘talent’ as a possibility—Groenland already has that in abundance.
The Montreal six-piece’s release is staggeringly accomplished for a first effort. The Chase occupies a nebulous arena between indie-pop and folk—though such labels seem pathetic when applied to tracks that brim with such originality. Melodic mastery and expert songcraft characterize the album, which maintains an undercurrent of unceasing fun—a ‘shout from the mountaintop’ joie de vivre. Inventive and memorable melodies twist, turn, and soar, taking on a life of their own in lead singer Sabrina Halde’s vocals. Iridescent at certain times, smoky and snarly at others, Halde’s voice is always remarkable for its realness, an uncanny relatability and likeability that won this critic over in record time.
There isn’t a single song on this album that is melodically uninspired or poorly arranged, and this collective virtuosity makes it all the more difficult to pick standouts. “Criminals” is one example where all elements work in perfect unison: the light, carefully counterpointed piano chords, alongside the cello and violin as they slide out sly riffs and punchy accents. “Our Hearts Like Gold” begins as a gentle ballad modestly adorned with an impossibly infectious melody, but soon blossoms into a hopeful, upbeat eulogy to conclude the album.
For a debut release, The Chase is incredibly polished and well thought-out. Whatever Groenland is chasing, they’re sure to find it. With artistry such as this, there’s nothing that can stand in the group’s way.