Essential New Music: Land Of Talk’s “Life After Youth”

In 2006, Canadian Elizabeth Powell transitioned from pretty pop solo project Ele_K* to anthemic riot grrl-tinged Land Of Talk, cranking out LOT’s debut EP and full-length, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss and Some Are Lakes, in a two-year span. A ruptured vocal polyp silenced Powell, and while her recovery produced 2010’s Cloak And Cipher, her album/tour burn- out caused an indefinite hiatus. Her subsequent comeback failed when a laptop crash destroyed months of work and she gave up completely. Powell finally responded to a plea from her father, bedridden from a stroke, to return to music. During her father’s convalescence, Powell discovered the transcendental qualities of ambient, classical and tonkori music, and incorporated that influence into Life After Youth, Land Of Talk’s first album in seven years. There’s a quiet, synth-pop pulse underpinning Powell’s compelling new songs, and her passionately wispy vocals give them a lean-in-and-listen-closer quality. Yet, Powell has retained her muscular guitar jangle while applying it in an ambient manner, particularly on the swirling psych pop of “This Time” and the jaunty melancholy of “World Made.” Although Powell’s new Land Of Talk is considerably more contemplative and understated, Life After Youth is an evocative and powerful step forward.

—Brian Baker