Toronto-based indie outfit Dilettante can trace their origins back to 2016: During the spring, mutual dog lovers Natalie Panacci and Julia Wittman started a band so their dogs could hang out more. Along with The Black Cats’ Zachary Stuckey; Said the Whale’s, Iskwe’s, The Recklaws’ and Scott Helman’s Bradley Connor; and Candice Ng, they started For Jane, a self-described dog rock pop band with a Kate Bush meets Sinead O’Connor sensibility that prominently featured Panacci’s and Wittman’s contrasting vocals and mesmerizing harmonies.
For Jane released their debut EP, 2018’s Married with Dogs, which featured “Car,” a track featured on CBC Music and The Edge. But by early 2021, For Jane announced a name change, largely influenced by a massive lineup change that left Panacci and Williams as its creative core, and a decided shift in sonic direction.
The duo’s Maks Milczarcyk produced-self-titled, full-length debut was released earlier this year, and the album featured “Bonnie,” an 80s New Wave inspired, synth-driven confection that to my ears sounded like a sultry take on Til Tuesday‘s “Voices Carry” as it featured glistening synth arpeggios, wiry post-punk-like guitars fed through a bit of reverb and an angular bass line paired with the duo’s plaintive and mesmerizing vocals.
The self-titled albums latest single, the Maks Milczarcyk written “Monster” is a gauzy synth bop centered around glistening synth arpeggios, relentless four-on-the-floor, burst of angular guitars, and an achingly bitter and heartache-fueled vocal delivery paired with a rousingly anthemic hook and chorus — before ending with a strummed acoustic guitar-driven coda.
While sonically bringing A Flock of Seagulls and others to mind, at its core, the song’s narrator delivers a bitter and heartbroken tell-off to an ex, she would like to forget. Rooted in a deeply personal experience, the song is simultaneously profoundly universal — to the point that I know many of us have been in the same situation and would be singing along with bitter tears streaking down our faces.
Shot by Video Business, the accompanying video follows one-half of the Canadian duo as she runs down a suburban street while singing the song past empty parking lots and a mall, where she eventually meets up with her bandmate — and they walk off together, perhaps suggesting that healing is in your friends, loved ones and in music.
Reborn from Toronto mainstay For Jane, Dilettante‘s self-titled debut effort is a modulated cabaret that tests how wryly powerful pop can be.