It would be easy to take the name tuques as an acerbic tribute to the winter that smothers this band’s subzero wastescape of a hometown, Edmonton, Alberta, for eight months a year. Too easy to start scratching parallels between the rich squalls of guitar washing around inside their short-playing debut, slushpuppie, and the numbing chill of said city’s long-playing winter that had barely begun as of the EP’s October 2014 release date. Too easy to apply easily qualifiers like frozen, stolid, ominous, bleak — to place easy genre tags or invoke the names of the architects whose halls these excellent songs echo around inside of.
What’s far from easy, though, is what tuques accomplish with greater and greater success on each of slushpuppie’s six movements.
Give opener ‘no cops’ exactly two seconds to tower far beyond sight and shower down onto you broken shards of category and expectation. Let second track ‘stay with me’ remind you that the human voice, divorced from lyric or intellect, is as an effective instrument as any. The uncluttered romance of ‘alone’ illustrates best what a band wielding this much fire is capable of: clearing out, with each new turn, wider and wider patches of territory previously thought subdued. A song as simple as ‘together’ fascinates with its plodding floor tom majesty and near-wordless moaning glory. Equal credit here goes to the immaculate engineering and production on this short collection that allows tuques to spirit an angry gale through their amplifiers and to conjure melody from stone.
What’s also far from easy is capturing a release like slushpuppie in words on a screen. So listen.