Release Date: Aug 5, 2014
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
?It’s been a long time coming, but Montreal is finally letting loose its next female electro-impresario: Mozart’s Sister. This summer sees the release of her first long-player, Being, which follows in the wake of her much talked about 2013 Hello EP. Sure, she’s quirky and she plays synth – but Caila Thompson-Hannant is most definitely not some Manic Pixie Dream Girl kind of creature.
With two EPs already under her Mozart's Sister moniker, Caila Thompson-Hannant knows what she wants and makes that fact very clear on her debut LP, Being. Self-producing an album is always a gamble, but it's paid off in this case. While Beingwill likely draw Grimes comparisons (the two are friends and perform a similar brand of dreamy synth-pop,) her mixture of '90s throwback dance music and trip hop, diva vocals and all, are in line with the current DIY aesthetic permeating a lot of pop music, yet still very much her own.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Montreal's Mozart's Sister, aka Caila Thompson-Hannant, first caught my eye when she opened for fellow Canadian band Trust this past spring. Her striking vocals and peculiar synth-pop intrigued me--there was a sort of odd, offbeat quality about her where I couldn't tell whether I was perturbed by her sound or whether I was hooked.
Being is a curious name for a synth-pop album. Not Meaning, not Truth, not Appearance, not Givenness, but Being. Why renounce the epoché, and why here? With her SP-555 and effects rack, does Mozart’s Sister (Caila Thompson-Hannant) really hope to restore the dogmatic barbarism of the real world of objects-in-themselves? Plenty of critics might prefer to believe that Mozart’s Sister is, technically speaking, an inexperienced tinkerer playing with toys and noisemakers, unaware of the wider implications of her composition’s title.
Montreal-based vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Caila Thompson-Hannant spent a lot of time playing with various indie acts in her scene, touring and recording over her formative years with bands such as Miracle Fortress, Think About Life, and Shapes and Sizes. Around 2011 Thompson-Hannant branched off on her own with solo project Mozart's Sister, a finely crafted exploration of fuzzy electro beats and hooky songs brewed up with all the trappings of vintage '80s synth pop and early-'90s radio R&B. A 2013 EP entitled Hello saw some of the first offerings of this sound, with songs that felt meticulously poured over and whittled into a state of off-kilter pop perfection.
It seems like it's hard to go a day in 2014 without running into a new purveyor of alt-pop and her new hyperkinetic vision of an alternate-universe top 40 chart. For such a crowded and seemingly welcoming genre, though, the sound itself is hard to get right, but when it is, it’s exhilarating, like the music itself has been subject to a Rube Goldberg machine for beatmaking, with no part too ridiculous to use. The risk is ending up with “pop music for people who don’t like pop music”: too restrained to really sink its hooks in, yet not quite intricate or patient enough for a slower approach, and usually carrying airs of preciousness.
‘Being’ starts with a simple, fatalistic life lesson in ‘Good Thing Bad Thing’. “You can’t get a good thing without a bad thing”, sure, and that acts as a decent summary of Mozart’s Sister aka Caila Thompson-Hannant’s career to date. Three years on from her debut EP ‘Dear Fear’, the Montréalais Bandcamp frequenter has since honed a sound which is increasingly, daringly her own.
Like fellow Canadian Grimes, Montreal’s Caila Thompson-Hannant, aka Mozart’s Sister, is a one-woman band. She first appeared in 2011 with self-released EP ‘Dear Fear’, specialising in exuberant, DIY keyboard pop. Three years on, that blueprint is much the same on debut album ‘Being’, which she wrote, recorded and produced herself, using Ableton software and a budget sound card.