Putting the populist back into pop rock
Ivory Hours’ hooks inspire predictions of broad success
What’s the deal? A lot of folks in the industry seem confident of Ivory Hours’ potential for success, and it’s not hard to hear why.
The trio, formed down the highway in London, Ont., in 2012 but now headquartered in Toronto, is veritably swimming in the sort of bright, crunchy power-pop ear candy for which contemporary mainstream radio stations are eternally ravenous.
This is, no doubt, why Ivory Hours have consistently fared well in open-call talent searches; they won local station the Edge’s Next Big Thing contest in the summer of 2015, made it to the final four of CBC’s Searchlight competition the same year, then earned a spot in the Canada’s Walk of Fame Emerging Artist Mentorship Program and are currently sitting amongst the top 10 finalists for this year’s Juno Master Class contest.
Clearly, people knowledgeable about such things seem to think these kids are capable of going places.
Ivory Hours’ recently released sophomore album, Dreamworld, is as polished and professional as they come, but there’s not necessarily any shame in aiming for the universal.
There is no denying, either, the gift for nagging hooks exhibited all over the thing by frontman and principal songwriter Luke Roes, who started the band with his sister, Annie — since gone from the band but still singing on a few tracks here and there — fresh out of university and thus still has lots of time to further hone his craft. You’ll catch yourself humming along to these songs in the car soon enough, I’m sure. Sum up what you do in a few simple sentences. “We make gritty, guitar-based alt-pop,” frontman Luke Roes says. “I’m always chasing melodies that I can feel in my stomach, new inspiring sounds and textures. On Dreamworld, that came out as a distorted, expansive esthetic with nods to the pop world.” What’s a song I need to hear right now? “Shadow Kids.” Try to resist those big “whoa-oh-ohs.” You can’t. The sort of bubble gum that makes rock radio bearable. Where can I see them play? At the Rivoli on Saturday, with Eleven North and Of Gentlemen and Cowards.