Home Read Albums Of The Week: Crown Lands | Fearless

Albums Of The Week: Crown Lands | Fearless

If you ground the entire Rush catalogue into powder and snorted it, your sophomore album would probably sound just like the Can-Rock duo's gradiose magnum opus.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Following a stream of long, conceptual single releases, Juno-winning, powerhouse rock duo Crown LandsCody Bowles (vocals and drums) and Kevin Comeau (guitar, bass, and keys) — proudly release their sophomore album and modern-day progressive opus Fearless.

The nine-track album and followup to their self-titled 2020 debut was recorded in 80A Studio in Toronto with producer David Bottrill (Rush, Muse, Tool, Mastodon) and came together over a six-month period in short, intense bursts between tours. Where the debut record showcased Crown Lands’ aptitude for raw blues rock, Fearless embraces more of the band’s earliest passions in prog-rock. The album is an unapologetically rich, ambitious work yet easily accessible, plus fans will notice previously released tracks like Context: Fearless Pt. I and Right Way Back that act as familiar touchpoints framing in the new soundscape.

“Fearless is the culmination of all our years as a band,” Crown Lands say in a joint statement. “Everything we have worked on as writers and players is on full display here. I think we were both able to do what we wanted to do as artists for so long.” Rather than clobber its audience with complexity, Fearless creates a world you want to spend time in. Bowles anticipates, “I hope that our playing on this record inspires people to kind of take up playing in that way. It’s something that’s not so common now, but when you get into it, it’s just so beautiful.”


Photo by Andy Ford.

Fearless is also a record of contrasts and dynamic textures. Nine tapestries of tone, where atmospheric swathes morph into strident guitars, dextrous polyrhythms and gnarly basslines — Bowles’ strange, beautiful tenor soaring over the top like a bird over a mythological land. Of the 18-minute lead single Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II, Crown Lands proclaim, “it is perhaps the most ambitious piece of music that we have written to this point. I suppose we intended it to be the centrepiece of this record.” The first track throws down the gauntlet, capturing the whole Fearless album experience. “The rest of the album serves to continue the themes we explore on Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II. It was an absolute pleasure to work with David Bottril. He is a true musical genius and a hell of a guy. We’re so proud of this record. It’s the best body of work we have assembled to date.”

Elsewhere, Reflections turns the spotlight on Crown Lands themselves. Written mid-pandemic, it’s a tender, stirring moment that finds Bowles and Comeau navigating a rocky period in their friendship — blending personal experience into the interstellar imagery that underpins the record. Offering a ray of stripped-back sunlight, acoustic instrumental Penny — written years ago by Comeau for his late grandmother — reflects the delicate atmospherics of John Butler (a huge influence on the guitarist). Citadel offers velvety, piano-led closure, drawing Fearless to an end in six gorgeously moody minutes. A folk-hearted ode to environmental defenders, it’s a space where Pink Floyd meets Bob Dylan.

“We wanted to flip the narrative and reinterpret the way people see people defending their land,” Bowles explains. “Because they’re depicted in the media as a thorn in people’s sides, but they should be celebrated as heroes, because they’re trying to save the last bit of land that is untouched and untainted by corporations.”