Language Arts have always existed comfortably in spaces most don’t travel. With the new record “Wonderkind", Kristen Cudmore has gone farther than ever before. Combining indie-pop elements, elements of early 90s female rap, with a prog-rock sensibility straight out of the 1970s, Language Arts sounds like nothing else right now. Forward-thinking fans of everything from Beck to Stereolab to Laura Nyro will have much to rejoice.
“Wonderkind” was created in the midst of a tumultuous time in Cudmore’s life, having moved from Vancouver to Toronto. Many have written about heartbreak, but few have approached it as a process as Cudmore did, taking over a year and a half to process varying stages of grief. While in the recording studio, Cudmore’s life took a more tragic turn, with the passing of two close friends, including a musical mentor. In the midst of the turmoil, it’s not surprising that “Wonderkind” feels viscerally personal. It’s a credit to Cudmore’s strengths as a writer that she also retains the bookish and playful spirit that informed her earlier work.
Musically, Cudmore covers an astonishing range, taking advantage of Darryl Neudorf (Neko Case, Blue Rodeo)’s recording acumen, and the musicianship of some heavy hitters from Toronto’s music community, including Neil MacIntosh (Ashley MacIsaac), Joel Visentin, Joseph Ernewein (Del Bel), Randy Lee (The Bicycles, Meligrove Band), Alex McMaster (Lily Frost, Classic Albums Live) and Vancouver-based, JP Carter (Destroyer, Dan Mangan). Guitars, strings, synths and percussion all peel off through strange but oddly compelling sonic structures. Veering between the epic and the obtuse, Cudmore conjures moments you haven’t quite heard from her before.
“Who cares that I’ve changed?” she almost raps on the track, “Oh Tangible World.” Fans both old and new most certainly will.
Written by: Samir Khan