Five years since the success of their previous album, We Are An Empire, My Dear, Canadian indie rock group, In-Flight Safety, are back with their feel-good third record, Conversationalist. In their time away the band’s mainstays took a break from the studio, John Mullane (vocals and guitar) spent his time scoring films and drummer Glen Nicholson returned to school to study architecture. However, after a period of introspection and armed with a new confidence, In-Flight Safety have thankfully regrouped to produce this playful new album. Inspired by contemporary bands like Wild Nothing and DIIV, Conversationalist is uplifting with its infectious guitar melodies and sing-along choruses, however Mullane’s honest vocals keep it tethered and create contrast.
Before Animals is the atmospheric introduction, which gives a sneak preview of the album’s single, albeit far slower and more sensitive. Animals then follows, unsurprisingly, and is a suitably upbeat tune. Most noticeably on this track, Mullane’s voice is eerily similar to that of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, however with an instrumental style that is more suited to a Bloc Party comparison, this is easily overlooked. Kicking off with a catchy guitar hook, fast paced percussion and joyous vocals, Animals is set up to become a greatly successful single.
Following the album’s single is the slightly slower Blue Flares, whose strong guitar melodies are reminiscent of Interpol, and the faster paced Stockholm, with a chorus that is heavy on the synthesizer.
However, Destroy, the fifth track on the album, is a standout. Starting off gently, with a simple synth and guitar melody, the introduction builds on itself, quickly adding piano and vocal layers, before the drum kicks in. Almost a minute in, the track transforms into a memorable indie rock classic. The lyrics are optimistically shouted in the chorus, encouraging the listener to join in, and throughout the song demonstrate John Mullane’s impressive vocal range. This four-minute long track seems to pass by quickly and makes for addictive listening, urging you to press ‘repeat’ again and again. After doing so, Destroy certainly makes its mark as a highlight of Conversationalist.
Caution Horses follows, and is a slower, synth based love song. While this one is more pop in style, its emotive lyrics are a little over-sincere, however it does give the listen a rest after the previous fast paced tracks. Then comes Tie A String, whose strong vocals and heavier guitar hook, contrast greatly with the subsequent, atmospheric and ethereal Crowd.
The album ends strongly with Firestarters. The clarity at the beginning of this final track is striking and refreshing after the multi-layered instrumentals of all the previous songs. However, Firestarters soon builds, becoming louder and heavier, and ends on a positive note, leaving the listener optimistic and satisfied.
Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, Conversationalist is a celebratory album, which inspires positivity and excitement. Built on the success of their first two albums, In-Flight Safety have proven that they made wise use of their time off, and deserve to be welcomed back with open arms.