Published Oct 08, 2019Though Dallas Green has explored many facets of guitar music over the last 15 years as City and Colour, there's a singular nature to the way he uses warmth and emotional care as a salve for the taxing elements of human existence. It's clear that he cares about the people in his orbit, both close companions and strangers across the world. A Pill for Loneliness, City and Colour's sixth studio album, pairs Green's increasingly urgent missives for love and connection amidst the perils of human life with the sounds of shoegaze — gauzy guitars, reverbed vocals, washes of synths — for a natural evolution of his sound.
The acoustic folk of City and Colour's earliest releases stood in bold, stark contrast to Green's post-hardcore dalliances with Alexisonfire, which appears to have galvanized him into being unresisting to embracing sonic change. Green is at his best when he leverages his talents in new directions, like on atmospheric opener "Living in Lightning," which finds him taking his time and making the best use of sonic space when contrasting his iconic falsetto with some crushing, slowcore chords.
But even then, Green can't avoid his inclinations for uptempo, riff-laden rock. Bluesy centrepiece "Mountain of Madness" and angular, driving "Strangers" serve as the album's highlights, made all the more apparent in comparison with the plodding "Song of Unrest," which recalls Phil Collins at his most ballad-y, and the dragging, spare "The War Years," which sprawls out for over six minutes without mixing it up. Without Green's trademark urgency, they drift into saccharine territory.
A Pill for Loneliness is another strong effort from City and Colour. It finds Green continuing to play to his strengths and continuing to move City and Colour's sound into new territory at an assured, steady pace. (Still)