PHOTO: REBECCA BLISSETT
The Pack A.D. don’t have the time or patience to fuck around. They are two musicians who sound like five and that shit takes WORK. Fists pounding drums, guitars gutted and spent, the East Vancouver band is fierce, defiant, and determined. And with their new release, Positive Thinking, they’ve made their best, most daring record yet.
Set for release on August 12 via Cadence Music, Positive Thinking is all carefully constructed chaos, crushing vulnerability, and massive swagger. Underneath the sprawl of its sonic infrastructure, singer/guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller — self described lifelong high school outcasts — traverse the hidden tunnels that connect all us damaged people together: anger, alienation, humour, sarcasm, sincerity, loneliness, grief.
“Positive Thinking explores the numbing day-to-day routine of depression and the fantastical ways that we look to mask it from ourselves and others,” Miller says. “The lyrics on this album are probably more personal to us than on any other record we've done.”
Over 12 tracks, Positive Thinking — the title itself equal parts facetious and honest—delves into apathy and ageism, sorrow and fear, fantasy and chilling reality. But the album’s opener, the acidic and abrasive, “So What” which has now hit the Top 50 on the National Commercial Alternative Rock Radio Chart, also models ways in which light can make space in the dark.
Post-utopic-nihilist rock is another apt description of the Pack’s sound, though Positive Thinking finds the pair deviating into previously unventured territory. “Yes I Know” unleashes a ferocious, headbanging storm, a perfect manifestation of the song’s themes: the crushing anxiety and psychosis-inducing sameness of bland, banal corporate monotony. There’s the Nico-goes-pop vibe of “Anyway”, a high concept song that imagines the complex relationship between a villain and a hero. The raw and relentless “Sorrow” paints a complex portrait of the invisible pain of grief and depression. The rollicking “Is It So” has an almost rockabilly vibe and it’s a blast. On “Error” Black and Miller use pulsing guitars, a driving beat, and fine percussion details to help translate Dan Simmons’ book, The Terror, which was inspired by the real-life story of the ill-fated, 1845 Franklin expedition of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, two ships that became icebound in the Canadian Arctic.
Engineered by Jesse Gander (White Lung, Bison, Japandroids) and mastered by Heba Kadry in Brooklyn’s Timeless Mastering, Positive Thinking isn’t a total overhaul of the Pack A.D. everybody knows and loves. But making this album—it was a reinvention, an old-school reckoning, and they’re better for it. We’re all better for it. “We’ve gone back and found the place where we started from,” Miller says. “This may have been one of the most difficult albums for us personally to work on but because of that, it's also been the most comfortable. There isn't a single moment where I feel like we've done any of it for anyone but ourselves.”
The Pack A.D are still going to steal the spotlight on every damn bill and fucking level rooms with sheer force. And they’ll prove it to you as they bring their tidal wave on the road across North America. Tour dates begin May 12 at home in Vancouver.
THE PACK A.D. ON TOUR
May 12 - Vancouver, BC - The Cobalt
May 13 - Vancouver, BC - The Cobalt
May 26 - Nelson, BC - Spiritbar
May 27 - Calgary, AB - The Gateway
May 28 - Regina, SK - The Exchange
May 29 - Winnipeg, MB - Good Will Social Club
May 31 - Thunder Bay, ON - Crocks
Jun 2 - Sudbury, ON - The Townehouse
Jun 3 – Peterborough, ON – Red Dog
Jun 4 - Toronto, ON - Lee’s Palace
Jun 6 - Hamilton, ON - Mills Hardware
Jun 7 - London, ON - Call The Office
Jun 8 - Waterloo, ON - Starlight
Jun 10 - Ottawa, ON - House of TARG
Jun 11 – Kingston, ON – The Mansion
Jun 13 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
Jun 14 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club
Jun 16 - Saskatoon, SK - Bud’s On Broadway
Jun 16 - Red Deer, AB - Bo’s Bar
Jun 18 - Edmonton, AB - Brixx
Jun 21 - Spokane, WA - The Bartlett
Jun 22 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
Jun 23 - Seattle, WA - Tractor Tavern