Take The Cake

Royal Mountain • 2021

The Toronto-based project’s debut sounds like long summer days in the suburbs, dreaming of escape.

I wonder if the past year and a half in a garageless apartment has anything to do with my reinvigorated interest in garage-rock aesthetics. That combination of lo-fi jangle of grainy guitar paired with the familiar processed keys of a Casio can only mean one thing — a not-entirely futile attempt to escape the existential boredom of adulthood.  

PACKSTake The Cake sounds to me like long summer days in the suburbs, dreaming of escape, transforming any ordinary space into a creative venue just to pass the time. The nostalgia manifests in the balance of the mix, which resembles a group of misfits on guitar, kit, and keys, singing about the greatest songwriting material: what they know.

While much of the success of their sound lies in raw emotional observations of ordinary life, PACKS also writes with a sophistication that feeds a sense of discovery throughout. Possibly my favourite song lyrically, “Clingfilm” rolls through surreal imagery producing existential contradictions: “My guts are wrapped in clingfilm / My guts are wrapped up tight / And if you’re gonna put me in your backpack / I will putrefy.” On the softer side, instrumental “My Dream” and pensive “U Can Wish All U Want” feature nylon strings and fingerpicking: “Not yet a butterfly, uh-huh / Crawling ’round the neighbourhood, uh-huh / Let’s stick together / I don’t quite know my way around just yet.”

By the final track of Take The Cake, you really have a sense of its subtle beauty amidst the buzzing of the metaphorical garage door. The semi-abrupt ending urges you to start the whole album over just to see what you missed, and in doing so, you’re sure to tune into those moments of magic when entertainment for distraction’s sake turns into genuine living.

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