Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson and his eponymous band have contributed to the soundtracks of TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and The Walking Dead. Watson also composed the entire soundtrack to French-Canadian film C’est pas moi, je le jure!. With such experience, listeners would expect that the group’s fifth full-length Love Songs for Robots– their first in three years- would be atmospheric and thought-provoking.
The album follows Watson’s recent epiphany that emotions are mechanical. There are certainly industrial, cold touches such as those on the spacey title track. Slow piano and Watson’s soft whisper depicting desolate, eerie echoes of the past is broken only by thundering drums, buzzing synths and high-pitched, jazzy guitar licks. It is a haunting example of self-reflection on this varied album.
The whimsical delivery of the creeping Good Morning Mr. Wolf is a short reprieve, as Bollywood initially defies its title with its throbbing, languid intro before breaking out into a lively frenzy in its second half.
The folksy Hearts bounces and sprints effortlessly through its galloping guitar plucking. The band including Watson, guitarist Joe Grass, drummer Robbie and bassist Mishka Stein sound light on their feet like a festival dance, making this a future live gig highlight. Grace continues the summer mood with its stoner’s laidback vibe recalling tracks like Elton John’s Daniel, serenading with its wacky, wavy synths, prog-rock guitars and bah-bah backing vocals. Alone In This World goes psychedelic like The Beatles’ Your Mother Should Know with its toe-tapping beat and quizzical synths.
Know That You Know is both mysterious and nonchalant, as Watson delivers lyrics about the difficulty of letting someone go in a pedestrian, detached manner that hints at the isolation he feels. The wondrous slumber In Circles is unfortunately too short, and the operatic Turn Into The Noise paces aimlessly for a bit too long. Eventually, Places You Will Go closes the album on a hopeful note, bringing light and suggesting possibilities for the future in its long instrumental outro.
Love Songs for Robots shows Patrick Watson and his band being genuinely curious and inspired for the most part, meaning that their music remains emotional, human and therefore according to Watson in interviews, ‘superior to computers’.