“The French-Canadian foursome may write and perform in French, but rock music this good is something we can all understand”
Corridor are a group from Montreal and their Sub Pop debut, Junior, was made just yesterday. The rock’n’roll band had barely inked their record deal when they surfed into studio, racing against time to make the most dazzling, immediate and inventive album of their young career: 39 minutes of darting and dodging guitars, spiraling vocal harmonies, and the complicated, goldenrod nostalgia of a Sunday mid-afternoon.
This ain’t Corridor’s first rodeo. Junior is the band’s third full-length and their third recorded with their friend, producer (and occasionally roommate) Emmanuel Ethier. However 2015’s Le Voyage Éternel and 2017’s Supermercado were made languorously, their songs taking shape across whole seasons. This time Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass), Julian Perreault (guitar), Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths), and Julien Bakvis (drums) permitted themselves no such indulgence. The band were committed to releasing an album every two years, and for Junior it required a blitz. “If you want to release something this fall, we need the masters by the 10th of May,” the label had warned them. Winter was already in its last throes: on March 1, Corridor went into studio; in mid-April, Corridor came out. They had somehow created Junior and it was, if we may be so bold, spectacular.
Singers, two guitars, bass, drums: the timelessness of the setup underpins the timelessness of the sound, a rock’n’roll borrowing from each of the past six decades—punk and pop, psych and jangle, daydream and swoon. This is music that’s muscular, exciting and full of love, its riffs a kind of medicine. Whereas Corridor’s past work could sometimes seem overstuffed, twenty ideas to the same song, the new work is hypnotic, distilled. “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” says Berthiaume. Six of Junior’s 10 tracks were conceived during a single weekend. The words to “Bang” were written on the eve of the sessions, as Robert began to panic: “Je payerai tôt ou tard,” he sings: I’ll pay, sooner or later. Fewer jams, fewer overdubs—no fortnight in the countryside, secluding themselves in a chalet. Even the artwork came in the nick of time: in spite of other, meticulous, masterpieces, Robert’s “shitty last-minute collage” (of an egg saying hello) was the one his bandmates went for.
That might be Corridor’s best trick—their mixture of seriousness and whimsy. Songs like “Miscroscopie” and the standout “Domino” are purposeful, full of songcraft, even as they let loose, slip their collar. “Topographe“‘s all call and answer, like rival Cupids shooting arrows at each other across a ravine. “Pow” and “Goldie” are like hurtling racecars, or teams of horses, accelerating towards a memory. And Junior’s title track—by turns twitchy and anthemic—is in fact a tribute to Perreault, their “joueur étoile,” star player: in spite of his disappointed parents (“parents déçus”), he’s Corridor’s VIP. Junior’s ten tracks are filled with tributes like this, impressionistic portraits of characters in the band-members’ lives. Their tone is affectionate, the meaning hazy—even if you speak French.
Sub Pop have never before, in their 33-year history, signed a Francophone act. Maybe the band’s magic springs from their ingenious hooks, their topaz-tinted vision. Maybe it’s the panache of Québec’s insurgent underground scene, or the camaraderie of Robert and Berthiaume, who have played together since they were 14. Maybe it’s their name—a hallway crossed with a toreador. Probably it’s all of these, and none of them: Junior is a joy, a hasty miracle, because it’s so much damn fun to listen to. This album is 39 minutes; each day has 24 hours; you can listen 36 times before tomorrow.