Its title to the contrary, Canadian singer/songwriter Daniel Romano’s new album seems remarkably free of the pressure that might burden most artists hoping to get on the radar these days. With his seventh album to date, he’s emerged even more confident than before, owing at least in part to the fact that his last effort, the ambitious and sonically sprawling Mosey, helped gain him the attention he’s been striving for over the last several years.
Like its predecessor, Modern Pressure is spawned from a variety of genres, from the Dylaneque drama of “The Pride of Queens” and the loping “Dancing With the Lady in the Moon” to the ragtag dynamic of “Roya” and “Modern Pressure.” Romano’s vocals boast a snarl and snicker somewhat akin to the Bard himself, giving these songs a slightly sardonic and tongue-in-cheek aura overall. Underscored with quirky tempos, oversized arrangements and the snap and sizzle of the robust instrumentation he employs throughout, much of the material pops right from the get-go. Given the irresistible attraction of “When I Learned Your Name,” Ugly Human Heart” and “Sucking the Old World Dry,” the album is driven by an infectious energy and enticement that brings Romano notice even at the outset.
That said, it’s no easy task characterizing Romano one way or another. Hints of psychedelia effectively blend with a telling dose of worldly wisdom, and despite a somewhat skittish delivery at times, he emerges as a knowing and clear thinking pop auteur. The fact that Modern Pressure was recorded in a rural outpost in the far reaches of the Swedish countryside might account for the concerted songwriting demonstrated here, not to mention that in such environs, a title like Modern Pressure becomes something of an oxymoron to begin with. Whatever the reason, it’s a tour de force, and one that ought to awaken the world to his considerable talents. One can only hope so.