PACKS – ” Crispy Crunchy Nothing “

Posted: April 2, 2023 in MUSIC

“Crispy Crunchy Nothing” is a love letter to being alive even with all the nitty gritty details considered. The sophomore album from the Toronto/Ottawa-based band Packs, it encapsulates all of the messy, magical, and confusing moments that make up the human condition. Its 14 tracks offer a slice of life that doesn’t shy away from the painful lows or exhilarating highs we all face. The follow-up to “WOAH“, their stripped-down EP released over the summer, 

Madeline reunited with bandmates Dexter Nash (lead guitar), Noah O’Neil (bass) and Shane Hooper (drums, backup vocals) for a weeklong recording retreat at a cabin on Lac Sarrazin in rural Quebec that they dubbed the Trout House, where the quartet bashed out all of the album’s 14 tracks and where the sauna doubled as nightly ritual and recording booth. After spending 18 months fleshing out demos over a Google Drive folder, uncertain of the band’s IRL future, the week was propelled by the kinetic energy of old friends reuniting in person, making sense of the smorgasbord of gear they crammed into the cabin.

And while the specter of death looms over “Crispy Crunchy Nothing” and its brisk, folk-rock vignettes of loneliness, yearning and confusion, so too does Madeline’s sense of humour. It’s bone-dry, tucked within her drawling vocals, and buried beneath guitars that alternately sneer and twang. But it’s there, the album’s beating heart — a sense of purpose and unflinching resolve evident even in its title, taken from Madeline’s description of biting into a moldy apple. 

“Crispy Crunchy Nothing” sees the quartet returning to the gleaming garage rock that defined their 2021 debut, “Take The Cake”. At it again with a full band to back her, band leader Madeline Link combines the scruffy sound that put Packs on the map with country influences, both contemporary and classic, to create an album that sounds like it was made by the kids that would sneak booze into the state fair. Simultaneously incorporating the woozy-whimsy of Alex G and the twang of legends like Hank Williams (who Link would listen to with her dad during lockdown), they cover as much ground sonically as they do emotionally. 

From “Take The Cake” out 5/21 on Fire Talk / Royal Mountain.

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