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Waiting Here


Prior to the recording of Tough Age's fifth album, Waiting Here, the stalwart powerhouse pop band embarked on a major transition. After spending over half of their ten-year lifespan in Toronto, founding guitarist/vocalist Jarrett Evan Samson and longtime drummer Jesse Locke (Motorists, Big Rig, Simply Saucer) returned to their West Coast origins in Vancouver. Reuniting with original Tough Age bassist Lauren Smith, who has spent recent years playing with beloved DIY punk bands Jock Tears and WUT, the trio relit a spark of inspiration by coming full circle. This reshuffling of old and new members gave the band a supercharged jolt shot through with a long simmer of contemplation. Continuing their trilogy of album recording collaborations with producer Peter Woodford (Freelove Fenner), Waiting Here was once again laid down at Montreal analog studio the Bottle Garden, and mastered by Vancouver music mainstay Jay Arner (Energy Slime, Fortunato Durutti Marinetti). Tough Age's new three-piece line-up delivered a cohesive song suite recorded live to tape, bottling the energy of the band's blistering live sets, while slowing the pace of their previous releases. Packed with patient, bittersweet hooks, Waiting Here includes lyrical themes of loving contentment, catharsis rooted in realism, and pushing back against paralyzing fears. These songs may sound familiar, but they emerged from a feeling of nostalgia looking forwards, as the trio continued to broaden and refine their singular approach to pop. For Tough Age, finding a place of comfort with the people you cherish is a catalyst to keep moving ahead. Evolving alongside their wide-ranging influences, Waiting Here slows the frenetic pace of Tough Age's previous LPs via mesmerizing guitar-monies ("Scattered"), Eno-channeling surf drone ("In a Garden"), and an expansive Yo La Tengo-esque riff meditation ("Getting Closer"). The 12-string jangling "Time & Again" is Samson's attempt to write a pre-folk-revival Fairport Convention song played by The Byrds, juxtaposed by twee punk ripper "Paradise by Another Name" with lead vocals from bombastic bassist Lauren Smith. Soaring pop stunner "Which Way Am I?", cut from Tough Age's 2020 album of the same name, gleefully spreads confusion with the twisted world-building logic of Guided By Voices or The Fall. Waiting Here concludes with its blown-out organ jam title track, cycling back to the band's Flying Nun loving origins in a worthy successor to The Clean's "Tally Ho!". The wait has been worth it.