Expwy – ‘Bag of Waters’

Review by Andrew Patterson

In trying to find a parallel or point of reference for Montreal’s Expwy, nothing seems quite evocative enough. Despite there being a myriad of bands that have made and are making this kind of music (capital P.O.P. Rock), I feel like whatever I might name drop or elude to herein would really just be a roundabout way of talking about The Kinks, and that strikes me as work that’s not very important anymore.

Instead of making any formal or sonic comparisons to Matt LeGroulx’s lo-fi pop nuggets, I thought I’d try to dissect and exemplify the precise pleasure I get from listening to Bag Of Waters. In approaching the tuneful 12-song, 40-minute set in this regard, I keep coming back to the same unlikely touchstone: Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

I enjoy Bag Of Waters much the way I do ‘Got Your Money’ or ‘I Can’t Wait’. To my ears, there are three distinct qualities in each artists’ songs that keep me coming back for more:

Firstly, the bass lines. The bass lines are prefect! They’re busy and bouncing and they make me really excited.

Secondly, the lyrics. With both O.D.B. and LeGroulx, I have no idea what they’re on about, but I love hearing about it. I could listen to their words over and over again without coming to any new understandings. Whether it’s Big Baby Jesus barking about someone’s pathetic need for pain medication or LeGroulx packing together opaque images of houses burning, people falling out of love and taking an apple out to lunch, the execution is pitch perfect.

Thirdly, the genuine madcap nature. In both cases, nothing comes across as being ‘put on’. O.D.B. was actually a half-insane dude from Brooklyn who meant what he rapped about, whether it made sense or not. LeGroulx signs his obtuse songs with real feeling and, because of this, there is an ease that comes out of the songs that leaves the listener in a whirl of rich word-sounds and playful mini-narratives.

Bag Of Waters pours over with pop classicism and oozes unsung charms. It’s all wound up in itself. Despite its dramatic tendencies lyrically, the music itself is stress-free, immediate and full of whistle-worthy melodies. Were a lesser artist attempt to accomplish what Expwy accomplishes on this full-length, it would feel like an awkwardly overstuffed bag. Instead, LeGroulx has handed listeners a glistening cup that floweth over.