Canadian indie rock band Kestrels decided to make their third album self-titled because it signified them starting over in many ways. After going through several personnel changes since forming in 2008, this is their first full-length with a solidified trio lineup of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Chad Peck, bassist Devin Peck, and drummer Paul Brown.
The album also arrives after the group’s van was stolen in 2013, including thousands of dollars’ worth of instruments and equipment. This forced them to rebuild their arsenal of guitars, amplifiers, and pedals, and approach making music from a fresh perspective. As such, their brand of heavy, catchy guitar pop sounds bigger and more expansive than before. Kestrels have always classified themselves as shoegaze, and while they certainly incorporate a copious amount of hazy guitar effects, they’ve always placed more emphasis on anthemic pop hooks, with primary influences including Ash, Sloan, and Dinosaur Jr. Their songs are driving power pop rather than midtempo psych-rock burnouts, as many shoegaze bands tend to produce. Their songs are driven by melodic guitars and pounding drums, but there’s also a magnificent wash of guitars backing them up. Some of the songs seem a bit sadder and slightly more dazed, particularly the vocals, but even comparatively slower numbers like “Are You Alone?” and “Neko” still sound busy and detailed. “Wide Eyes” and “Waiting” both seem like sure picks for singles, and closing track “Temples” could be an unearthed Sugar tune.