To argue the merits of teenage bands means punting lyrics from the outset. Rare are the artists as young men who articulate their passions with any degree of complexity or perspective, but Foreign Talks thankfully stays within all-ages territory throughout its eponymous debut. A suburban indie-pop quartet of musicians from Vancouver, Wash., aged 17 to 19, who released a track called “Mama” name-checking comfort foods and fights over football failings might not have much choice really. While singer Marcus Fischer knows how to tease the end of a chorus—the burgeoning swagger of his supple lead vocals is the ideal launching pad for little bro Madison’s falsetto—the charms of an overused vibrato soon break down, and whenever the more-than-a-frontboy’s careening flow spurts toward hip-hop rapidity, he sounds like a kid left too long in a candy store. They’re errors of youth, and on this particular record, they’d be sorely missed.
Save the goofball vocals, Foreign Talks would appear ready to follow Expunged roster mates Blind Pilot on the NPR stage, but the divergent leanings reflected by its debut are far more intriguing. The band takes an inventive approach to polyrhythmic coffeehouse indie, displaying a preternatural facility for tasteful, quietly self-possessed atmospherics.
Vancouver bands don’t
always get the greatest degree of respect in these parts. Thinking
about troupes born to a community shorn of venues or a recognizable
scene, we wonder just how the wildlings beyond the sea wall imagine
they’ll escape. But for Foreign Talks to arrive at such hive-mind
instrumental interplay after little more than a year, perhaps some towns
call for practice, practice, practice.
SEE IT: Foreign Talks plays Backspace, 115 NW 5th Ave., on Thursday, April 18. 9 pm. $7. All ages.