Under Review: Sam Roberts Band – Collider

In his native land of Canada, Sam Roberts is revered as a superstar. With three acclaimed major releases and an exhaustive tour history under his belt, it’s easy to see why. Here in America, though, Sam Roberts’ career is about as unrecognized as the daily happenings of Canada itself. Undaunted, Roberts and his band continue bringing their ragged roots rock to audiences both attentive and unaware. Collider is the first album properly credited to the Sam Roberts Band, though little has changed in the quality or dynamic of Roberts’ music.

Thematically, Collider isn’t too much of a departure from the joyous, pre-apocalyptic rockers as Love At The End of The World and Chemical City. Roberts’ world always seems like it’s on the verge of collapse, yet he’s determined to get the most out of every moment. On “Graveyard Shift,” Roberts details his macabre predicament, blaming himself and a lack of information for getting him in too deep. Who is it that’s been keeping Roberts down? Allusions to the traumas of war are alluded to in “Twist The Knife” and “Sang Froid,” where Roberts alternately embodies and addresses soldiers of a futile war. In “I Feel You,” a track that indeed slightly resembles the Depeche Mode song of the same name, the war gets a name: love. Collider rides this metaphor quite heavily, but it rarely feels overplayed.

As Roberts delves into the politics, his band’s music swells into more and more impressive territory. Prominent horn arrangements give the inspirational “The Band Vs. The World” and the terrific “Let It In” an optimistic brightness. Land Of Talk vocalist Elizabeth Powell joins Roberts on “Longitude,” and members of Antibalas and Califone help out elsewhere on the album. Like Love At The End Of The World, Collider works best as a whole, allowing closer “Tractor Beam Blues” to sum things up in its call-and-response middle section. “Is love enough?/Yes, it is/Is hope enough?/I hope it is/[Are] we close enough?/’Cause it’s the best it’s ever gonna get.” Sure, we’re doomed, but at least we’ll go out with a bang. Maybe even a big one.

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~ by E. on May 13, 2011.

2 Responses to “Under Review: Sam Roberts Band – Collider”

  1. Sam Roberts Rules

  2. Great Review! Really enjoyed reading it. It was intelligent and to the point. One of my favorite albums of the year by far.

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