Montreal’s Karkwa scooped the coveted Polaris Prize in a ceremony in Toronto last night. Taking home $20,000 prize money, the band became the first Francophone winners of the Prize in its 5 year history for their album Les Chemin De Verre.
Les Chemins De Verre is the fourth album of the bands 12 year career career, and sees them taking a more organic approach, the band heading in to the studio with the bare bones of songs before adding layer upon layer of guitars, handclaps, prepared piano and vocal harmonies until they reached the final recorded versions. Although frequently compared to Radiohead, this comparison seems way off the mark, their 70′s folk rock influenced sound bearing more resemblance to the modern pastoral stylings of Andrew Bird or Midlake, particularly on tracks like “Marie Tu Pleures” and “Les Enfants De Beyrouth”. Fans of former Polaris winner Patrick Watson will also find much to love here, and indeed the two bands have been known to collaborate under the Karkwatson moniker, as well as Watson contributing backing vocals to Karkwa’s previous album.
Liisa Ladouceur, who oversees the Grand Jury, spoke about this year’s decision.
“This was probably the longest and most emotional deliberation in Polaris history. The short listed records are all of extreme high quality and they truly resonated with members of the jury whether or not they completely understood the language of the lyrics…What this year’s winner indicates is that music is about emotion.”
You can stream Les Chemins De Verre at Karkwa’s website now.
You can also check out the Bande a part Super Session, which saw the band join forces with Land of Talk’s Liz Powell for a run through of Les Chemins De Verre’s title track.