Moxy Früvous/Bargainville (Warner Music)
The question facing this talented Toronto quartet as it headed to Woodstock, N.Y., to record this major-label debut was where to focus? Should it accent a cappella or highlight the political satire of its lyrics? Hype the humour or push the percussion?
Their fans - and judging by the gold-plus sales of their earlier independent recording, there are thousands - know the group really could do no wrong whichever direction it went. There were right, While diehards may correctly complain that the manic excitement of Moxy's live shows doesn't quite reach the tape, the group seems to have made this record more for new fans than old. That means it covers all the bases.
There are subtle touches of acoustic guitar, percussion and accordion, cleverly mixed and matched for different sounds of each of 15 tracks. But only the closing Gulf War Song is truly voices-only, a shame given the richness and beauty of the blend.
The record is alternately funny, touching, poignant and pleasing to the ear. Früvous couldn't have hoped for a stronger debut. This album made history last month by entering domestic sales charts at No. 6, the highest debut ever by a Canadian group. No wonder - there really is no one else like them. ****