What do you think of when someone utters the word “Canada”? I think of a beaver. Those industrious rodents, officially recognized national symbols prominently displayed on Canadian currency, build elaborate structures for themselves. In the determined spirit of the beaver, four hosers from Vancouver who go by the name of Default desperately want to rock your world. Their latest album, One Thing Remains, breeds songs soaked in cold, melodic chords and an unshakable Canadian blandness.
The vocals aren’t compelling enough to carry many of these tunes. Default singer Dallas Smith tries to lure you into a deep well of heartbreak with “The Way We Were.” The song itself wanders with echoing guitars and shoe-gazer drumbeats, but the swelling chorus ruins it. You can’t help but think these guys would be well-suited to Los Angeles, because this is the stuff that sitcoms swim in: mediocre melancholia. Default’s sound is vague and difficult to navigate. One song careens into Coldplay territory, but the vibe quickly gets lost when the next song latches onto a rough, Def Leppard guitar riff layered with a soaring string section.
Perhaps Default needs to reconsider its raison d’etre. After three albums, their sound should be sharp, distinctive, unique, and clear-headed. But One Thing Remains repeatedly stumbles through songs and the strain between bandmates is palpable. And it’s not the kind of strain that produces tortured inspiration.
– Michelle Valdez