CD Review: Actual Water – The Paisley Orchard

actual water
3.0

The Paisley Orchard is the third release from Toronto's psychedelic act Actual Water. Sounding like a bizarre mix of The Beatles and The Kooks, Actual Water manage to bring the 60's back to life. 

The entire album sounds as if it were recorded on a 4-track tape recorder in someone’s garage. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though. In an age where digital recordings allow quick and easy manipulation, what we hear is sometimes a far stretch from reality. The sound captured on this album is so raw and absolute that you can almost imagine yourself sucked back to the 60's, standing amongst a crowd of hysterical young girls as Actual Water rock the stage.
 
Actual Water are more than a tribute to the 60's though, infusing their pop folk beats with an experimental sound of delays, reverbs and effects gives them an incredible originality sorely lacking in today’s music scene.
 
The first track, "Pale Ways", explodes into a cacophony of sound that somehow seems familiar. While the lyrics can be hard to decipher at the best of times, they certainly fit the theme and add authenticity to the sound. The songs follow suit until the title track "The Paisley Orchard". Heavily laden with effects and a massive dose of reverb, this folksy song showcases Actual Water's talent. Unfortunately, the reverb is slightly overused on the snare drum and turns the chorus into a wall of echoing, almost stereophonic sound instead of the melodic piece that it should be. "Death or Glory" shares a similar fate, the overuse of delay and reverb turns an otherwise beautifully harmonized song into a self-replicating wall of echo.
 
The tracks "Cyclamen Dew" and "For the Clear Grass" are the only two that feel out of place on this album. While both are instrumental pieces, they are rather simple and bland, serving more as an intermission between songs than anything else.
 
The Paisley Orchard requires multiple listens, very few will appreciate the album on the first play through. However, after your second or third listen, it's quite easy to overlook the album's shortcomings and instead focus on Actual Water's uniqueness and originality.
 
With such an interesting and unique sound, you can't help but wonder where the group draw their influences from.