Hello Fiasco's 'Find the Shoreline' combines accessible pop/rock, an indie edge, and thoughtful lyrics
The range of pop/rock
Sometimes I forget how many different directions good pop/rock can go in.
There’s a broader palette than you might think for something as seemingly simple as pop music. The feel of a pop song can range from slow, brooding, and affective to upbeat, uninhibited, and joyful. The emphasis can be on the pop, with intricate melodies and layers of instrumentation, or on the rock, with a driving energy and borderline reckless inhibition.
The variety of Hello Fiasco’s debut album Find the Shoreline reminds me of just how many different styles and sounds fall under the umbrella of pop/rock. Though they have their own sound, which combines the pop sensibilities of the best adult alternative with the edge of indie rock, their strength is in how many different ways they do pop/rock.
Who are Hello Fiasco?
Hello Fiasco rose from the ashes of The Mailman’s Children, or TMC, a Canadian band that released four albums between 2001 and 2015.
They gained a fair amount of notoriety, touring around North America and sharing stages with acts like Sass Jordan, The Northern Pikes, Alannah Myles, Wide Mouth Mason, Ben Darvill of the Crash Test Dummies, and Brian Tataryn and Ken Currie of The Guess Who. I’d like to think that their second album, 2002’s Stranger Things, somehow influenced that show that’s kind of popular or something.
Currently, Hello Fiasco consists of former Mailman’s Children members Eric LaBossiere (vocals, rhythm guitar), Joel Couture (bass), and Joel Perreault (lead guitars/backing vocals), along with TMC contributor Ivan Burke (drums) and Guy Abraham (keys/Ableton/backing vocals). Although each were born Canadian, frontman LaBossiere now lives in Helena, Montana, making them more North American than Canadian.
The group eventually recorded 23 songs, whittling them down to 12 for 2022 debut album Find the Shoreline. Though released on Spotify in May, where it has had an impressive 1,000,000 streams and appeared on 2,000 playlists, its actual release date is August 4.
Co-produced by frontman LaBossiere and award-winning Canadian producer John Paul Peters (Comeback Kid, Arkells, Propagandhi), the album was mixed in its entirety by Peters and then mastered by one of the best in the business, Sterling Sound’s Randy Merrill. His credits include Paul McCartney, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Harry Styles, and my gal, Lady Gaga. He gives the tracks a radio-ready sound without smoothing out the rough edges too much.
The varied pop/rock of Find the Shoreline
It isn’t for nothing that Find the Shoreline has over a million streams on Spotify, as it successfully covers many moods and shades.
Piano-led opener “It Makes Sense” is engaging and poppy but also has an edge. The keyboards add an essential layer, as they do throughout.
A key strength of Hello Fiasco is their lyrics, which are accessible and poppy but also meaningful, as “It Makse Sense” shows:
It makes sense
Humans go from necessary to immense
It makes sense that what we want and need
Are very different things they are you see
I have another wish for my list
Can’t help it
I’m never really satisfied
When I cross it off my list I’ll find another wish
I can’t help it
I’m never satisfied
Poppy “Hold Me Close” has some cool time signature shifts, especially in the verses and pre-chorus, which break into a big, spacey, minor key chorus. The track features more creative, relatable lyrics: “We do the things that we’ve done over and over before/a new experience is all that I’m asking you for.”
“Before Time Leaves You” begins with emotive strings before leading into an almost Sufjan Stevens sort of thing, at least if he had more guts, and perhaps more pure pop sensibility. The atmospherics, led by a slide guitar, are a highlight. The lyrics are uplifting but not cheesy, which is almost impossible.
A wonderful bass/drum groove leads “Gorgeous Girl.” Smooth with an indie rock edge, reggae-tinged verses lead into one of the best choruses on the album. The keyboard atmospherics are again a highlight.
“Atlantis and Compatible,” a radio ready acoustic pop track, features fellow Canadian songwriter Erin Propp. A chunky guitar, poppy double tracked vocal, and interesting percussion propel “Chess,” which is slightly heavier than the other tracks, and has a great melody. Same with “Worried Sick,” which has a unique chord progression and dynamics.
Keyboardist Guy Abraham shines again on “One Phone Call,” providing engaging atmospherics that add to its epic feel. The lyrics, as they are throughout the album, make a point but don’t beat you over the head with it:
We beg for a simple favor
You give typical behavior
It shouldn’t a problem man
The Kiss of Death is anything we leave in your
Less than capable hands
The range of Hello Fiasco
While Hello Fiasco certainly has a recognizable sound – they’re pure pop/rock with an indie edge – the variety of approaches on Find the Shoreline shows just how far-ranging pop music can be.