Elevate Difference

Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner

The self-proclaimed neat-freaks in Victoria, British Columbia-based quartet Shapes and Sizes have crafted a genre defying sophomore album that begs you to rethink the way that you listen to music. Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner is a perfectly whimsical combination of lowbrow tartiness and heartfelt emotional awareness.

Released on Sufjan Stephen’s label, Asthmatic Kitty Records, Split Lips is already eligible for a Quebec Independent Music Award. Lead vocalists Caila Thompson-Hannant and Rory Seydel color outside the lines of what is traditionally considered masculine and feminine with their often sugary sweet vocals melding together so flawlessly in some songs that you almost forget both genders are at play. To say this album is all over the map would be an understatement, but that proves to be both its greatest strength and weakness. The vocal experimentation on “Highlife (I Had Been Duped)” exemplifies Split Lips, with Thompson-Hannant coercing the listener into the song with her slightly off-key poppy ramblings followed by orgasmic screams and a makeshift bar-room sing-along followed by what vocally sounds like a nervous breakdown. The emotionally vulnerable track “The Taste In My Mouth” makes a socially poignant statement about domestic abuse, while the track “The Horse’s Mouthy Mouth” deals with nothing more than, “generally fucking shit up.” Split Lips is refreshingly avant garde in a manner that is so intellectually taxing that it requires your undivided attention.

Written by: Claire Ashton, June 15th 2007