Galaxius Mons’ 2014 album, GMO, is a sandwich of sound that hits all the right taste buds.
In the summer of 2014, on the occasion of his final release as Expwy, I did an email interview with multi-instrumentalist songwriter Matt LeGroulx. In that conversation, LeGroulx confided in me that “I’ll still be working on other projects but my days of being the sole proprietor of my own rock band are over,” adding that, “I’d really rather be part of a collaborative effort than have to run my own band.” I was reminded of my discussion with LeGroulx earlier this year while preparing to review Body Breaks’ Bad Troublewhen I came across another interview in which Julie Reich described meeting her Body Breaks bandmate — Matt LeGroulx — in 2014 when he and Ian Jarvis (of Chairs) played a show in Toronto as Galaxius Mons ahead of the release of their second LP, GMO.
Based on both interviews, there was clearly a lot of collaboration on LeGroulx’s horizon around this time in 2014: not only were the seeds (and indeed the actual creation) of Body Breaks’ Bad Trouble album about to bear fruit, but the wholly collaborative GMO was also about to drop, ushering in a whole new chapter in what is arguably one of the most interesting and engrossing musical careers in recent Canadian history.
For all the recognition and critical love heaped upon Expwy in its day, LeGroulx’s ongoing friendship and artistic partnership with Jarvis as Galaxius Mons doesn’t get the recognition and love it rightly deserves. Always seemingly ahead of the curve, Galaxius Mons’ embrace of straight-ahead synthpop came at a time when it felt as if other artists were ironically flirting with electro-new wave sounds, never fully committing to the ‘pop’ portion. That’s not to say there wasn’t any irony in the way Galaxius Mons handled the release of GMO; they held a release show at Montreal venue The Plant where they gave away download codes to the album with the purchase of a pulled pork sandwich, after all.
Regardless of the uncommon release format (and the following dad joke), GMO is a sandwich of sound that hits all the right taste buds. Jarvis and LeGroulx invited a number of their friends from Montreal’s music scene to the feast, welcoming guest vocalists Jef Barbara for the funky “Controller Down,” Anna Elbon and YouYourself&I on the sparkling “Outweigh the pillared masts,” YlangYlang on “The Earth moved in quarter tone silent waves,” as well as Merival’s Anna Horvath, Samantha Savage Smith, Annie Shaw, Tamara Sandor, Year of Glad, Einar Jullum, and Ambrose. You don’t need familiarity with those names to appreciate the diversity and colour they bring to Galaxius Mons’ songs.
Oftentimes, collaborations of this kind suffer from fragmented and confusing sounds, but Jarvis and LeGroulx ensure that, regardless of who is singing, the song’s core is rooted in their exploration of electronic music-making. The duo is highly skilled in the science of making infectious, melodic sounds married to marvellously mystifying lyrics (most definitely LeGroulx’s work), and GMO perfectly pairs the right voice to the right song. As he’s most recently proven with Body Breaks, band-buddy collaborator LeGroulx is just as compelling — if not more so — than his lone-wolf music-maker version.