Idols of Exile
(Arts & Crafts)
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5
Written by John Metzger
Since the late í80s, guitarist Jason Collett has been bouncing around the Canadian indie scene, where he locally earned critical acclaim for his work with the Andrew Cash Band, Ursula, and Bird. Nevertheless, it was the breakthrough success of the loose-knit collective Broken Social Scene, which he helped to assemble and later joined, that garnered him widespread attention. In tapping a number of his colleagues for support on his proper debut Idols of Exile ó his previous solo efforts were either self-released or compilations of older material ó it immediately is apparent that Collett is determined to capitalize on his recent good fortune. Although he employs a sizeable cast that includes Leslie Feist, Kevin Drew, Metricís Emily Haines and James Shaw, and Starsí Evan Cranley and Amy Millan, he not only resists the urge to create a clone of Broken Social Sceneís catalogue, but he also manages to keep the focus entirely upon himself.
Thatís not to say that Collettís influences donít stick out like a sore thumb, and for all of its eclectic textures, Idols of Exile is, at first glance, ridiculously derivative. Given the alt-country flavor that prevails ó not to mention the world-weary crackle of Collettís voice ó thereís no question that the ghostly presence of Wilco undeniably weighs quite heavily upon the affair. In addition, there are Donovan-esque overtones to Brownie Hawkeye; bits of The Jayhawks and the Rolling Stones rumbling through Pink Night; touches of Neil Young creaking through Parry Sound; elements of The Cure wafting over Iíll Bring the Sun; and fragments of Bob Dylan in full, Traveling Wilburys-style regalia attached to both Hangover Days and Pavement Puddle Stars. Elsewhere, Collett becomes even bolder about swiping sounds from the past, most notably on We All Lose One Another during which he takes the introduction to Smashing Pumpkinsí Disarm and bends it into a World Party-infused pop tune.
In spite of its many borrowed refrains, Idols of Exile is, nonetheless, a surprisingly effective album, largely because whenever Collett lifts a motif, itís not for lack of a better idea. Essentially, he thrusts his record collection into the foreground and allows it to spin the soundtrack for the worlds that are conjured by his lyrics. On paper, the high school hijinks of Almost Summer appear to be fairly typical; and thereís even a sense of playfulness to the manner in which he sets the mood by paraphrasing the title of Meatloafís Paradise by the Dashboard Light. The melodic intonations, however, are drawn directly from P.F. Sloanís Eve of Destruction, and when sung through a cigarette haze worthy of Jeff Tweedy, a dark shadow is cast upon the trackís seemingly innocent fun. Itís moments like this that make Idols of Exile resonate, and they undoubtedly signal that Collett is a songwriter worth watching. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box