Patrick Krief, 'Skylines' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Music » Album Review

Patrick Krief, 'Skylines'


Published September 20, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated September 20, 2023 at 10:10 a.m.

Patrick Krief, Skylines - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Patrick Krief, Skylines

(Handwritten Distribution, digital, vinyl)

Having your album copy casually compare you to John Lennon and Leonard Cohen is fairly fucking bold, even by the hyperbolic standards of music PR. Yet in the case of Montréal singer, songwriter and pop visionary Patrick Krief, the comparison is fair. He is a genre chameleon who excels at everything he does, and he pens spare but powerful songs.

His status as a star in his own right has been a long time coming. Krief did great work in the trenches of Canada's indie rock scene for decades, beginning as a sideman whose most prominent gig was with Montréal fixtures the Dears. In recent years, after endless studio experimentation, he began releasing albums under his own name. Skylines, his latest offering, is a proper prestige rock record, sequenced to be experienced as two sides of a vinyl LP (which can be yours for a mere $28 — Canadian!).

It's also a concept album of sorts, exploring Krief's experience as a first-generation Canadian by way of Morocco. If not for the liner notes, though, you'd hardly know it.

This isn't some heavy-handed rock opera clobbering you over the head with exposition, just a tight collection of songs revolving around love, loss and family. Even in the most familiar radio-pop pockets of this LP, Krief wins you over with his songwriting. Every line is honed razor sharp, speaking universal truths but still evoking a little mystery along the way.

The production here is consistently incredible. Much of that sheen is thanks to the expertise of McGill University alum Marcus Paquin, who is perhaps most famous for his work with Arcade Fire. But Krief is not only a songwriter with a real gift for framing everything just right, he's also a producer himself.

His range on Skylines is vast. But his dynamics are carefully controlled, so when things open up into full freak-out apocalypse, as in the closing act of "Chiburi" or the filthy blues stomp of "Hard Luck," the listener is left stomped flat.

The same can be said for some of the album's softest moments, too. Krief is a master of quiet intensity. Case in point: "Damned," a slow, lovely shuffle that's equal parts Cowboy Junkies and Lana Del Rey. It's a spellbinding love track, vulnerable and raw, and it washes over you like a dream.

The album closes strong, veering from the thundering backbeat of "Ten Steps" into the title track, which starts off distinctly country and builds into something psychedelic and grandiose. Finally, "Light Eyes" strips everything down to Krief's voice and guitar. On an album so overflowing with ideas, this spare finish offers a potent contrast.

Skylines is the most confident album from Krief yet, as well as his most ambitious. This is a highly refined, world-class product. Not only is the artist equal to his hype, but it's a crime he's not getting bigger coverage.

Skylines is available on Bandcamp and all major streaming platforms.



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