At many moments, Canadian rock duo PS I Love You’s latest album, For Those Who Stay, owes as much to bands like the Smiths, Pixies and the Cure as it does to its own indie rock contemporaries. Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Paul Saulnier’s signature shrieky-yet-contained vocal stylings and his diverse array of guitar tones that somehow still fall neatly into a consistent sound really go a long way towards helping this record establish itself. The components of a For Those Who Stay song are pretty predictable however: fuzzy and/or distorted guitars, five to seven-minute song lengths, a straight drum beat, a pseudo-anthemic chorus in which Saulnier sings the name of the track in some funky little way, maybe a few synths swirling around and maybe an experimental intro that crashes into one of those standard alternative guitar hero-type riffs that Saulnier loves so much. The album starts very strong, “In My Mind At Least” and “Advice” are probably the album’s two strongest tracks.
Bad Brain Day is an interesting one, slowing down from the album’s typical pace, adding one of its best melodies and existing in an overall cleaner realm than its eight counterparts. Its use of synths and electric-infused drum beats really makes it the album’s outlier. Limestone Radio features that same standard riffing guitar, with a classic rock-inspired call and repeat chorus, that works much better than it sounds like it would.
The album’s title track is where things derail a little bit. It is the album’s most ambitious seven minutes, completely reliant on Saulnier’s guitar virtuosity, something that he posses an ample amount of. But this song’s success would best rely on the chops of a legend, and it goes without saying that Saulnier does not make the cut in that category. The album’s final four songs all have their niches, but for the most part, it’s just a weaker version of the album’s first half—the same vocal style, the same riffs, the same depressed-but-in-love lyrical content, but each, to varyingly limited degrees, does bring something to the album. Afraid Of The Light features the album’s best use of shredding, Friends Forever is a needed veer into the poppy and vocal-driven side of indie rock, More Of The Same lays the fuzzy on strong and Hoarders, the album’s finale, is the driving force that brings the album full circle back to where it began on In My Mind At Least.
It’s also worth noting that this album, considering it’s the band’s first to be recorded in a real studio, is very strangely mixed at times, sounding more like it was recorded in a basement than any of their other releases. Perhaps as overcompensation for perceivably “selling out” by giving up their DIY recording methods? Either way, this is a strong indie rock release that further establishes PS I Love You’s sound, improving upon it but not really do much to shift it. Maybe that’s a good thing though, because this album is a great listen.