Album Review: Shred Kelly – Archipelago

Photo Credit: Children Of The Revolution

British Columbia five-piece Shred Kelly are releasing their newest record this Friday. 

Archipelago is out on 19 October via German record label DevilDuck Records and is all the modern folk goodness you need to make your day better.

The new record was produced by Howard Redekopp (The New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara), and Josh Rob Gwilliam (Cowpuncher, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald), as well as co-production by Colin Stewart (Yukon Blonde, Dan Mangan) on the track, Don’t Ever Look Back.

The collaborative songwriting of Tim Newton, Sage McBride, Jordan Vlasschaert and Ty West pulled inspiration through individual experiences and musical influences. The result is a dynamic and cohesive collection of dreamy, yet explosively exciting songs dipped in themes of relationships and the world in the modern age. Using traditional instrumentation at the base of the songwriting, the album explodes into a symphony of sounds incorporating banjos, ukuleles, synthesizers, guitar hooks, harmonies and pulsing beats.

Kicking off with the record’s title track, Archipelago gives you that modern folk feel while still being mainstream friendly and avoiding the Mumford-&-Sons-esque pretentiousness (no offense to M&S, by the way). Archipelago feels real and honest with hints of banjos but mainly lots of clean drums, feather-like vocals and killer melodies.

Jupiter wonderfully showcases vocalist Sage McBride’s enchanting voice that goes so perfectly well with the band’s melodies. Nothing about this record feels forced or rushed, yet it is clear that Shred Kelly put a whole lot of work into creating these songs.

On Stay Gold the pace really picks up and you can just picture this anthemic track in a live setting, let the singalong commence (delirious dancing including). Taking you wayyy back down again right after is the mellow Way Down. If there was an emo subculture in folk, this track would be it. The heaviness and intensity are all encompassing and beautifully executed.

Similarly, Weightless is a haunting ballad that will have your mind drift off into another dimension, there’s a hint of 80’s classic rock ballad in it that give it a huge sounding feel without any of the big drums or riffs needed.

Nova picks right up on those big drums though – it sounds big, and it’s definitely meant to do exactly that. And as Houseboat gently sends you off into the sunset, quite literally with its airy banjo picking and chitter-chatter intro it sounds like the perfect ending to a really good party, it becomes clear that Archipelago is one of Shred Kelly’s best work yet.

Having so many artistic ideas and influences to draw from allowed Shred Kelly to continue developing their unique sound while compiling a large body of work. The group chose from over twenty songs and decided on eleven for the final pressing of the album.

“We’ll never put a song on the album that we don’t all agree on. With all of us gravitating towards different styles of music, it’s difficult at times to all agree on what we like most. So if we all love it, it’s a definite yes for the album.” Says McBride.

“We worked hard to create an album that captured the energy of our live show, which can be a challenge in the studio. Thankfully, our producers Howard Redekopp, Josh Rob Gwilliam and Colin Stewart really succeeded at getting dynamic performances, and challenged us while keeping the process a lot of fun. We are very proud and excited to put it out into the world.”