Conclusions. As far as Limblifter’s Ryan Dahle is concerned, they’re overrated.
Pacific Milkis the latest chapter of Limblifter’s still-being-written story. It’s a story that began back in 1996 with a lauded debut LP; a story with Dahle as both its author and protagonist, joined by a who’s who of Canadian musicians as supporting characters. It’s full of awards and nominations and a handful of top 10 radio hits. And it’s a story that grows more engaging with each new entry – especially when that entry isn’t expected.
Since the self-titled album that spawned singles like “Tinfoil” and “Screwed It Up,” Limblifter has resurfaced somewhat sporadically over the years. Like its predecessor, 2000’s Bellaclava featured Dahle’s brother Kurt on drums and produced rock radio staples like “Ariel vs. Lotus” and “Wake Up to the Sun.” Following Kurt’s departure in 2001, Dahle pushed forward with new bandmates and released I/O in 2004.
Since, he has kept busy with other projects – from a 2009 solo release comprised of material he considered “too weighty” for the Limblifter moniker, to production work with the likes of Hot Hot Heat and k-os, to forming CanCon super-trio Mounties with Hawksley Workman and Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bays. But now, seemingly out of nowhere, with over a decade elapsed since the last taste of new Limblifter, there’s Pacific Milk.
“I want a cohesiveness to the whole story of the band,” Dahle says. “Limblifter – that name means something to me. I can’t articulate exactly what it is, but there’s a casualness to it. It’s not super serious; it has to be fun and exciting.”
Rest assured, Pacific Milk is definitely worthy of the Limblifter name, full of intriguing and intelligent indie-rock with snappy-but-substantial hooks. Anchored by Dahle’s unmistakable vocals and imaginative riffs, the group is rounded out by a host of long-time collaborators and friends playing everything from drums, keyboards, percussion, and strings.
Lead single “Dopamine,” propelled by a bouncy, percussive progression that leads into an immediately grabbing chorus, or the similarly hooky “Hotel Knife” wouldn’t be out of place on previous Limblifter collections. Other cuts, though, like the slow-building “Suspended,” with its anthemic group vocals, and sonically ambitious closer “Juliet Club” find the band pushing into new sonic territories.
“It was a lot more solitary on the last three records,” Dahle says, speaking to album’s more communal spirit. Between his bandmates – both in Limblifter and Mounties – and supporters like Eric Warner, head of We Are Busy Bodies and the man behind both the 2012 re-release of the band’s debut LP and upcoming release of Pacific Milk, Dahle says that his external influences were instrumental in the composition of this latest chapter.
“I’m just as moved by other people’s stories as I am my own,” Dahle adds, shifting focus to his writing. Indeed, the band’s lyrics have always been compelling – sometimes cryptic, sometimes quirky, but always compelling. “I’m influenced by everything around me, though I don’t see myself as much as a storyteller; more of an image provider and thought provoker.”
It’s therein that his disdain for conclusions lies – why limit someone to an ending when you can provide the path that leads to many? “I feel like I’d rather write the outline for someone to be inspired – helping someone think in a new way that might lead them to create something new,” he shares.
Dahle and company will be sharing those ideas when Limblifter hits the road to support the release. And while the band’s longtime fans are sure to be lined up around venues, Pacific Milk is full of sounds comparable to many contemporary tastemakers (even though Limblifter predates most of them) that should bring them curious new ears.
Beyond that, what’s to come for Limblifter remains a mystery – even to Dahle himself. Pacific Milk is the latest chapter to be written, but won’t be the last.