It feels like Australian music is popping up everywhere. Artists like Cut Copy, Gotye and Boy And Bear have conquered their continent and have started to make their way into the ears of listeners overseas, and as of this month the Perth-born and Sydney-based duo known as Canyons will be joining them on the list of Australia’s rising stars. Canyons’ synth-heavy debut LP, Keep Your Dreams, takes a dramatic, M83-like approach to what might be disco or maybe indie rock.
Whatever it may be, Keep Your Dreams does not end in the same territory in which it starts. The first few tracks churn up fast-paced, elastic electro underpinned by jangling tribal beats, but by the last song, “And We Dance,” the album has slowed down to accommodate a bit of sitar, a robust saxophone and a bubbling minimal beat. “And We Dance” is not only the last song on the album but the longest by more than a minute, giving Canyons time to build a sound that relies less on lyrics and danceable beats than its predecessors, like “Under A Blue Sky.”
Keep Your Dreams is not the first release from Ryan Grieve and Leo Thomson, the Perth natives who make up Canyons. A few years ago, DFA released the 12″ single “Fire Eyes” for the duo and invited the guys to play a DFA boat party in New York, a trip that turned into a seven-stop tour across the U.S. It’s easy to see what DFA was drawn to in tracks like “See Blind Through” and “Sun And Moon”: a futuristic, retro disco aesthetic produced by a combination of dance beats and wailing saxophones and guitars.
For all of its work with dance music, some of Canyons’ strongest tracks rely more on sounding like a band rather than a production duo. The laid-back track “Tonight” employs a standard rock beat over the pulsing drum machine of a song like “Blu Snakes” and a wandering, reverberating guitar lick over synth blips on “See Blind Through.” Throughout the course of its debut, Canyons seems to be carving a dramatic middle road between dance music and groovy bedroom rock.