Montreal-based The World Provider (known more casually as WP) have released their latest album, History of Pain, with a reduced line-up due to the departures of Olga Goreas for Besnard Lakes, and Kara Blake, who has gone on to filmmaking. Malcolm Fraser and Stacey DeWolf have continued with the band, and are joined on a few songs by the likes of Steve Raegele and Nicole Lizee of The Besnard Lakes, and Murray Lightburn, frontmant of Dears.
History of Pain runs somewhat contradictory to expectations the title might encourage. An aura of contentment permeates the songs on the album, rendering the majority of them upbeat and even dancy. Even ‘Douce Melodie’, an unsurprising softer and slower song, still channels more cheer than pain. Quite possibly suggesting something about the nature of pain, the record also gives the impression it simply doesn’t exist.
WP strikes a creative balance between using synths and more traditional instruments—the album is still very much rock oriented and the guitar riff in the finale, ‘Homeward’, has an edge to it that establishes their rock-cred despite the band’s reputation as being synth-driven. The opener, ‘Uptown’, begins with a similar nod to more classic rock before transitioning into something more akin to the Scissor Sisters. While Fraser dominates vocals, DeWolf’s voice often complements Fraser’s higher notes, and the two seem to be contributing more musically than lyrically, though this works for the overall mood of the album.
Produced by Lightburn, the sound quality is sharp and clean, allowing the various elements of WP to come through independently, while enabling the fusion of synth/instrumental and male/female vocals. The album is catchiest at the beginning and end, while a couple of the shorter songs in the middle fail to make an impression in their two-and-a-half minute allotment, coming across more as generic synth filler that the intriguing mixture that makes ‘Uptown’ such fun to listen to.