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 and sophisticated composition.
This past winter, Population II signed with Bonsound‘s label, booking and publishing arms. The taste making Montréal-based label will be releasing the Canadian trio’s highly anticipated Emmanuel Èthier-produced sophomore album Èlectrons libres du québec. Slated for an October 13, 2023 release, Population II’s sophomore effort is reportedly much more straightforward than its predecessor, and sees the trio crafting heavy psych rock infused with feverish punk rhythms, a burst of early punk energy, a hint of jazz philosophy and a love of minor scales that channel the early roots of heavy metal. The album’s material also sees the trio continuing to showcase their deft musicianship and expertise of their instruments with the material effortlessly balancing between challenging compositions and memorable melodies.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s first single, “Beau baptême.” Built around a fairly traditional and recognizable song structure — verse, chorus, verse, bridge, coda — “Beau baptême,” is roomy enough for buzzing power chord-driven riffs and mind-melting grooves paired with Gratton’s ethereal crooning. The song sees the trio deftly balancing jazz-inspired improvisational sensibilities with the tight restraint of a deliberately crafted composition.
The song 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.
Èlectrons libres du québec‘s second and latest single “C.T.Q.S” begins with a punk rock-like urgency with a relentless, driving rhythm and dissonant, 70s jazz fusion/prog rock organ with a slightly menacing, off-kilter vibe before veering into a krautrock-meets-psych ripper about half way in. Featuring tongue-in-cheek lyrics, the band’s Gratton taunts those who are too passive and have surrendered in the face of the world’s current, turbulent state.
“‘C.T.Q.S’. is the manifestation of the tribulations of the past among today’s youth,” the Montréal-based trio explain. “It’s the calm after the storm, the law of suburbia, the boomer’s victory lap. It’s searching the ‘Local business” category on Amazon.”
Population II will be embarking on a handful of dates with The Oh Sees. The tour includes a September 22, 2023 stop at Warsaw. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
16/09/2023 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall •
17/09/2023 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom & Tavern •
18/09/2023 – Détroit, MI – El Club •
20/09/2023 – Boston, MA – Royale •
22/09/2023 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw •
21/10/2023 – Saint-Hyacinthe, QC – Le Zaricot ° • Supporting Osees
° Double bill with Yoo Doo Right