Spun: Jason Collett

By Garth Paulson

Arts & Crafts, the Toronto-based indie label, has seen its star rise epically in the last few years with hyped-up and hyperbole-inducing releases from the likes of Broken Social Scene, Feist and Stars. Now with Jason Collett’s Idols of Exile, the label adds another feather to its already impressive cap.

Collett, one of the many members of BSS, has been playing and recording folksy-acoustic songs in the Toronto scene for many years but he never hinted he had something like Idols in him. Here Collett truly distinguishes himself as a songwriter, avoiding most of the awkward missteps and underwhelming decisions plaguing 2003’s Motor Motel Love Songs.

The album sets the precedent for its quality early, beginning with a brilliant trio of songs. “Fire” is a wonderful, laid back number with warbling synths in the background highlighting the three-way harmonies between Collett, BSS’s Kevin Drew and Stars’ Amy Millan. This segues into the impossibly catchy “Hangover Days,” a song illustrating a relationship going sour with surprising ease considering its upbeat feel. “Brownie Hawkeye” begins as a simple piano ditty before swelling into a horn driven chorus perfect for lazy summer nights: “I took a piss on the wall out back of the mall/You drank the last of the sherry/Green Grass stains your bare feet/On the dash of your mother’s Chevy/I guess it’s hard to quit what you won’t admit to beginning.”

Idols continues in this vein throughout its length, only occasionally missing its mark, like on the too Jayhawks-esque “Along the Way.” Guest stars abound but Collett’s own aching delivery outshines them all. The result is a deft piece of summery pop fully deserving its place among the best Canada’s hottest label has to offer.

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