Release Date: Oct 28, 2016
Record label: Paper Bag
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
Centered around the theme of renewal, Sam Roberts' sixth studio album, 2016's Terraform, finds the Canadian singer/songwriter delivering an infectious blend of groove-oriented rock and literate, melodic pop that speaks to his continued longevity. Technically speaking, terraforming is the theoretical process by which humans could make a planet habitable to live on. It's a tantalizing concept, and Roberts has repurposed it here as a metaphor for rebirth -- one that could easily be applied to Roberts' career.
Sam Roberts has released albums at a steady clip in recent years, with Lo-Fantasy in 2014, the psychedelic Counting the Days EP in 2015 and now TerraForm, his third record as the Sam Roberts Band. When an artist is 16 years out from their debut album and firmly cemented as a mainstay in Canadian music, there's always the question of whether new albums will delve into uncharted territory or fall back on what works. It's a balancing act, of course — established acts will draw inevitable criticism from fans or critics, regardless of the direction — but where Counting the Days served as a new take on the sound Sam Roberts Band fans are well-versed in, TerraForm (the name is a nod to the idea of travelling to another planet and making it liveable for humans) is a return to the slick, stadium-ready compositions Sam Roberts Band was built on.
The Sam Roberts Band have based their career on churning out back-to-basics pop/rock, although more recently they’ve also experimented with jazz and Afrobeat elements in the mix. On TerraForm, they move away from the horns and percussion of their last two albums and instead add psychedelic touches courtesy of producer Graham Walsh, known for his work in the instrumental electronic rock band Holy Fuck. Walsh holed up with the group at the Tragically Hip’s Bathouse Recording Studio in Kingston, and rather than focus on layering overdubs of additional instrumentation, he concentrated on augmenting the big guitar riffs with elaborate echoes and effect processing.