Over the past year or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed and rising Montreal-based indie rock act Corridor. The French-Canadian JOVM mainstay act, which currently features longtime friends and collaborators Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths) along with Julian Perreault (guitar), Julien Bakvis (drums) and the band’s newest member Samuel Gougoux exploded across the Francophone world and elsewhere with 2017’s sophomore album Supermercado, which received glowing praise from from NPR and Vice, who referred to the album as “the best French record of 2017, 2018, 2018, 2019, 2020 2021 and even 2022 . . . ”
Building upon a growing profile, the band signed to Sub Pop Records, who released their third album, last year’s excellent Junior, making the band the first Francophone act ever on the world renowned label. Continuing their ongoing and highly successful collaboration with their friend, producer (and occasional roommate) Emmanuel Ethier, the album found the band jettisoning the languorous creative process of its predecessors — out of inspired necessity. Although the members of the band had only just signed to their new label home at the time, they had firmly committed themselves to releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And the band fully intended on fulfilling their long-held commitment. Naturally, when the folks at Sub Pop were informed of this, they gently warned the band that if they wanted to release new material that fall, they needed to send the label a completed album by early May.
With the ink barely dried on the finalized record contract, the band rushed into the studio and recorded Junior in an inspired and breakneck blitz, finishing the album in mid-April: Six of the album’s 10 songs were conceived in a single weekend — with the album closer “Bang” being written the night before they were to start recording sessions. Reportedly, Corridor’s Jonathan Robert wrote that song’s lyrics while panicking over the possibility of not being able to properly finished what they started.
Because of the quickened nature of the Junior sessions, the material features fewer expansive jams and less reliance on overdubs. Even the album’s artwork managed to come about in the nick of time. In spite of other more meticulous and gorgeous artwork they received as potential album art, Robert’s “shitty last minute” collage of an egg saying hello was the one his bandmates wound up approving. “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” the band’s Berthiaume says of the Junior recording sessions.
Album tracks like Topographe,” “Pow,” album title track “Junior” “Goldie” and Domino” manage to reveal a wide range of influences: a bit of post-punk here, a little bit of XTC over there, a little bit of The Beatles, a dash of The Beach Boys here and so on. And with some deft craftsmanship and musicianship, they manage to whimsically and mischievously create something novel out of the familiar.
Late last year, the Montreal-based JOVM mainstays went on a West Coast tour, and during their tour they made a stop at Seattle’s KEXP where they performed songs off Junior in one of the better live sessions I’ve seen in some time — and it the session included “Agent Double,” the gorgeous krautrock-like album title track “Junior’ (one of my favorite tracks on the album), the brooding “Grand Cheval” and the explosive and jam-based “Domino.” Of course, like most of the KEXP sessions, there’s a playful interview with the band, in which they reveal that the album and its title is a loving homage to their guitarist and friend Julien Perreault. They also talk a bit about the band’s formation and their creative process — while touching upon how they came about their unique sound. It’s a fascinating look into a band that personally has stolen my heart quite a bit.