Toronto’s PACKS make music that’s like leafing through a diary entry of a time without visible movement, a subtle beauty that appears only when paying close attention. A series of intriguing, lo-fi singles trickled out on Bandcamp, and on the strength of these demos alone the band began sharing stages with artists such as Odetta Hartman & Squirrel Flower. Less a band that is a product of the internet than one whose quiet and acute observations make them impossible to be ignored, the quartet led by Madeline Link has carved out a growing space past the Canadian country lines where their initial demos were born. Written in two different settings, between the city limits of Toronto where Link was living in 2019, and the Ottawa suburbs where she was quarantined with her parents in the spring 2020, both remain complementary emblems of self-reflection and wry observation of the mundanity of daily life.
“The album is a meeting of old and new,” says Link. “Old songs from a year ago where I'm having really horrifyingly awful days at work, getting doored while biking in Toronto and flying into the middle of the street, or going on dates with guys who I'm either instantly in love with, or who end up creeping me out a bit. Those songs are more packed with that feeling of hurtling-through-time-and-space-at-breakneck-speed, manic energy. The newer songs are infused with a foggier, slower-paced disillusionment, and deal with the strangeness of a reality morphing before my eyes every day. I still try to be optimistic obviously, but these songs are really glorified coping mechanisms.”
Initially a solo songwriting project of Link’s that she pursued between gigs as a set dresser for commercials, the band blossomed into a four piece, composed of Shane Hooper (drums), Noah O’Neil (bass), and Dexter Nash (lead guitar). Anchored by Link’s voice, which brings such an easy charm to her songs that it’s easy to miss her keen ear for acrobatic vocal lines, together they turn Link’s melodically adventurous and introspective songs into the purest and brightest kind of indie rock. The band’s debut is a collection of songs that marry the loose but incisive jangle of early Pavement with the barbed sweetness of Sebadoh and the wide-eyed wonder of the first Shins LP will be released in partnership with buzzy Brooklyn label Fire Talk (Dehd, Deeper, Mamalarky), and Toronto mainstays Royal Mountain (Alvvays, Wild Pink, Mac Demarco).