Montréal-based psych rock trio Population II — Pierre-Luc Gratton (vocals, drums), Tristan Lacombe (guitar, keys) and Sébastien Provençal (bass) — can trace their origin back a long way and are inextricably linked to their teenage memories. After years of jamming to the point of developing a unique sense of telepathy, the trio began recording independently released material that caught the attention of Castle Face Records head and The Oh Sees‘ frontman John Dwyer, who released the band’s full-length debut, 2020’s À la Ô Terre, an album that saw the band displaying their mastery of improvised madness and sophisticated composition. Their heavy take on psych rock is rooted in their restless and relentless work on refining their imposing and unpretentious and sound and approach which frequently infuses feverish funk rhythms, jazz philosophy, punk rock energy and a love of minor scales that recalls the roots of heavy metal.
This past winter, Population II signed with Bonsound‘s label, booking and publishing arms. The tastemaking Montréal-based label recently released “Beau baptême,” the first bit of new material from the rising French Canadian outfit since 2020’s À la Ô Terre. Built around a fairly traditional song structure — verse, chorus, verse, bridge — “Beau baptême” is roomy enough for buzzing power chord-driven riffs, mind-melting grooves paired with Gratton’s ethereal crooning. The end result is a song that sees the trio deftly balancing a jazz-like improvisational like sensibility with the tight restraint of a deliberately crafted composition.
“Beau baptême” explores the psychological journey around inspiration and focuses on the very genesis of ideas — namely how ideas are actually born and the opinions they generate. Throughout the song, the band’s Pierre-Luc Gratton sings about how writing can sometimes happen with ease and spontaneity and sometimes requires deep, long reflection. Fittingly, the song is rooted in a lived-in specificity.