On Junior, Corridor hums and purrs like a finely tuned engine running at optimum capacity.
I came of musical-appreciation-age at the apex of indie record label influence. For a teenager obsessed with discovering new sounds, that twenty-year stretch from 1980 to 1999 was pure magic. The Big Six may have been raking in the dough, but the period’s most innovative musical scenes, styles, and attitudes were being defined by small armies of artists signed to the independents. Think Def Jam, Factory, Dischord, Mint, 4AD, Mute, Rough Trade, Touch & Go, Sonic Unyon, Creation, Kill Rock Stars, and Sub Pop. I lived and died by some of these imprints, buying music based on the record label’s track record alone, artist and music unknown and unheard.
Eventually, I grew up and got a mind of my own, the music industry imploded on itself, and what label an artist belonged to was less of an influence on my musical preferences. I can’t confidently say I know whether or not a lot of the artists I’ve written about in the last year are actually on a label, let alone which one. We’re at a point now where acknowledging an artist’s label (if they’re even signed to one) is little more than a footnote, and yet Sub Pop signing Montreal quartet Corridor to their label in the U.S. earlier this year created a dust-up of coverage that seemed anything but antiquated. In 2019, our post-label music world should care less about such things, but a francophone Canadian band saddling up alongside fellow compatriots Eric’s Trip, Constantines, and Wolf Parade was officially A Big Deal®.
For me, the bigger deal was that simultaneously Corridor signed with Bonsound in Canada, a label that has been at the vanguard of our shifting musical landscape. Bonsound blurs boundaries and borders, featuring diverse and disparate acts like Pierre Kwenders, Elisapie, Les Louanges, and Mélissa Laveaux. This piqued my curiosity: does Corridor have what it takes to stand side-by-side with such an esteemed roster of Canadian artists? I had an answer in under three minutes and fifteen seconds. That’s the length of “Topographe”, the opening song on Corridor’s Junior. Sub Pop — the taskmasters they are — imposed a short turn-around time on the band for Junior (the record needed to be in the can by May in order to drop this calendar year), so you’d be forgiven for expecting less-than-stellar results; you’d also be extremely wrong. Junior is a revelation.
For such a short gestation period, it doesn’t sound like a band in the midst of a rush job at all. If anything, Corridor hums and purrs like a finely tuned engine running at optimum capacity. It is a coming-of-age record who’s song titles suggest exactly what you’ll experience. “Topographe” maps out Corridor’s sound and style right from the get-go, a gritty blend of indie garage rock, lo-fi pop, and the effortless harmonies of singers Dominic Berthiaume and Jonathan Robert; “Domino” topples over itself with motorik efficiency and the slinkiest of Junior’s already slinky basslines.
“Pow” nails home the quartet’s subtle, explosive power, fueled just as much by cascading beats and rhythm as its mellifluous melodies. Closer “Bang” explodes in a shimmering shower of preternatural synths that send shivers down your spine and swell your heart ten-fold. Bands (and record labels) would sell their souls to the devil for a closing song like “Bang”, the kind that makes you want to immediately listen to the album all over again. In the end, what matters most is that the music on an album is of superior substance and quality. That should be the real story, truly what the big deal should be about. Corridor is now officially A Very Big Deal®; not because of a couple of record contracts, but because Junior justifies the hype and hyperbole.