Paper Bag Records; 2010
10 Tracks; CD, LP, Digital Download
Review by: Jen Polk
Remorsecapade, Woodhands' second full-length, is a follow-up to 2008's explosive Heart Attack. This new release keeps the band rocking the keytar, pounding out the dance hits, and exploring its emotional baggage. It offers up eminently danceable tracks and much artistic interest, and establishes the Toronto duo of Dan Werb (keytar, synth, vocals) and Paul Banwatt (drums, live vocals) as the go-to band for electro-pop-rock that's smart, surprising, and impossible not to move to.
The first track, "Pockets," sets the tone, and assures the listener that all the ingredients that made Heart Attack great are still present. Slow builds and quiet moments compete with pounding beats and aborted symbol crashes. The song's both groovy and meaningful. It's a love song, after all. "Talk," next up, is about a girl, too. It has dance hit written all over it, but the angst-ridden, yearning kind, not the bubble-gum version. "CP24" you've perhaps heard (and seen) already. (The video for that was put out as a teaser before the album was released.) Here the angst gets aggressive and embittered. "Sluts" — which I just noticed begins with a technical glitch and Dan swearing "fuck this machine" — has a more dance club vibe. The girl problems continue, but there's a resolution. What begins aggressively ends with a much more healthy attitude. Awesome.
And then comes "Coolchanize," my favourite song on the album. As Dan himself might say, "Oh shit!" Screams! Grunts! This song takes me through the ringer. Dan — or the man he's singing about — has been done wrong. "Why are you fucking with my focus? Why do you have to be the closest thing to me?" etc. The man can't get a break, though, deciding next that "I Should Have Gone With My Friends" instead of following his date around. This is another great dance track. After all this "Dissembler" comes as a welcome reprieve. Maylee Todd (guest vocals), whose smooth vocal performance on "Dancer" added so much to the first record, is back, performing a duet on this one with Dan. Much airier, this pop love song is really lovely. Everyone now feeling better about things, it's time to dance (and scream) again. "When the Party is Over," featuring fat synth beats, under-emphasized drumming, and great singing, is another solid Woodhands song. The final track ("I Want To Be Together," followed by the outro "How To Survive A Remorsecapade"), is radically different in sound. It's slower, contemplative, sad — "I want to be together" is the repeated refrain — but also a smart way to end a record that's full of anger, heartbreak, and other emotional struggles.