Shadow Offering is the fourth album from Montreal based indie rock band, and offers both a higher level of artistry and more unfiltered emotion than any of their previous ventures. Each song is deeply personal, with an open-hearted candour in both the lyrics and the voice of Raphaelle Standell-Preston.
The album has the perfect mix of light and dark, of hope and melancholia. It starts with the bright, uplifting Here 4 U, with its dancing synth background. In Upheaval ii, a strong drumbeat and fast-paced guitar riffs perfectly match the themes of empowerment. And in Fear of Men, Standell-Preston sings of overcoming the fears that hold her back. These songs showcase the unmistakable thread of hope running through the whole thing. The album is uplifting enough to counteract its more pensive elements.
On the other end of the spectrum is the quieter, introspective Ocean, with its soft piano melodies, and Just Let Me, with its mournful refrain of lost love. Eclipse (Ashley) is a ballad named after the vocalist’s best friend that showcases powerful vocals. Young Buck is an ode to impossible love and desire.
Shadow Offering has a political side as well, one that seems perfectly timed. In the lengthy track, Snow Angel, Standell-Preston talks about the injustices of the world, of white privilege and global warming, as well as her own personal guilt as a white woman, a message that must surely resonate with many at a time of protests and police brutality. Note to Self provides a lighter finish, with a reminder of the importance of self love.
Repetitive synth combined with string and piano, and as well as upbeat percussion, creates a pleasing and varied soundscape, although one that is often overshadowed by strong, theatrical vocals of Standell-Preston, who is undoubtedly the star of the show.