Mobile: Tales from the City

The Juno Award-winning “Best New Artist” of 2007, Toronto-by-way-of-Montreal rockers Mobile step up their game on their second album. Not content to follow the lead of their critically acclaimed contemporaries back in Montreal, the band’s tack is decidedly mainstream, with Killers producer Jeff Saltzman (not to be confused with Portland, Oregon producer Jeff Stuart Saltzman) in tow. In reality, though, their sound hasn’t changed all that significantly – if anything, the precise, danceable rock beats typical of the band (and of Franz Ferdinand, and, naturally, the Killers too) are even more firmly in place, and the dark dramatic sweep of their productions are more pronounced. Some of the album’s most successful moments are when drummer Pierre-Marc Hamelin gets to breathe with some fills (especially on “No Tomorrow” and in the midst of the ‘80s pop synth beats of “Gravity”), though to their credit, the band does manage to humanize dance rock with just enough dark moods to keep it interesting without devolving into self-parody. They’re at their best, however, when they buck the formula – “All is Forgiven” is a surprisingly unpretentious, low-key three-part epic (who knew such a thing existed?) that bridges the gap between Muse and ‘80s Genesis. Tales from the City may not be earth-shattering, but it does continue to provide evidence that the musical grounds up in the Great White North are still fertile. (Universal Music Canada 2008)

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