RedFox tread a darkly stylish path on their striking debut album Stranger Love — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Artfully fusing traditional folk instrumentation and songcraft with cutting-edge electronics and sonics, the experimental Montreal quintet craft an album that delivers the best of both musical worlds — while simultaneously establishing a rich, satisfying environment that is uniquely their own. With two previous EPs — 2018’s self-titled RedFox and 2019’s Recovery — and numerous singles under their belt, guitarist Jono Townsend, banjo player Tim Loten, vocalist and fiddler Daphnee Vandal, metal drummer Sam Neumann and prog-rock bassist Sam Robinson have truly upped the ante with Stranger Love. And they know it.
“Inspired by our personal and collective life experiences, our goal with this production was to create a compilation that pushed the boundaries of the genre,” guitarist Loten shares. “It’s not always easy to make our various instruments and creative visions cooperate; we demand a lot of compromise from each other musically, and that really shows in these songs. It’s a dark album,” he continues. “Daphnee has never been shy about writing real, honest lyrics, and I think people will get a lot of meaning out of it.”
The 12-track disc forms something of a narrative, with songs chronicling a journey of internal struggle and personal growth. “Stranger Love’s opening track Play is about the fight with the mind,” Vandal reveals. “From there, it goes into first warnings that something dark is clouding it all in Sleep, before seeing the signs in Shiver. As song No. 4, Mellow Out is where we say ‘It’s fine,’ and Circles becomes this insanity-meets-repetition cycle where we know nothing about any of this is ‘normal’ and we acknowledge an introspective conclusion; that reality is a more pessimistic existence than once imagined.”
At the midway point of Runaway, Vandal’s lyricism questions concepts of escapism. “Here is where we find strength, and experience a happier side of self-realization. Even though personal disappointments are faced, there’s a potential to shed that which makes for unhappiness, in all different facets of life: physical, emotional, or both.” Following night comes day, and Try swoops in to lay the darker side of self-realization plainly. “It’s about the acceptance of failure,” Vandal muses. “It’s about how devastating it can be to give everything you have to something that inevitably doesn’t work. It’s here where the clouds of one’s own haze and ‘rainbow mood’ part, sort of like a daydream, in Hey Mister. We start to see that everyone else is struggling too, and start to become free.
“Can’t You See is a song about the acceptance of realization and the desire to make choices that move forward, and Invisible is about experiencing freedom while doused in the memories of greater times; it’s about discovering one’s meaningful meaninglessness. Song No. 11, Takes One to Know One, is where it all makes sense, and we realize we were never alone. The album’s closing track Sewn, is a reflection of the sad, but honest truth: we feel safe here.”
Stranger Love’s album art expresses how duality is the reigning constant through colour, composition, and emotionality; how, much like two sides of a coin, you need both for it to be complete. Created by Montreal tattoo artist J.F. Biron, the band’s vision for the visual was to convey the duality of softness and intensity, haze and definition, dark and light, foreboding and providence. “We are all bound by life’s precarious and extraordinary cycle,” Loten says. “This is our time and, together, we are the observers of this wonderful chaos.”