In the incestuous Toronto music scene, the side projects are often as good or better than the bands they spun off from. Such is the case with Memphis, a semi-supergroup headed up by Torquil Campbell of the sophisti-pop outfit Stars and Chris Dumont of the edgy synth-pop band Metric. In Memphis, Campbell and Dumont let their Belle & Sebastian/Lightning Seeds/Smiths/Squeeze influences loose, in songs that
rest in hushed arrangements and lower keys. Memphis’ second album A Little Place in the Wilderness
features a lot of formless strum and coo, but even the blander songs are elevated by their surroundings. The smattering of truly terrific songs—like the zippy music-hall exercise “Incredibly Drunk On Whiskey,” and the whispery Euro-folk creep-out “A Ghost Story”—define what comes before and after them, forging an ambiance of wonder and eerie calm. A Little Place in the Wilderness
wraps up with “The Night Watchman,” an extended metaphor of romantic attachment—or maybe obsession—that states its case with every lonesome echo.
Chris Dumont of Memphis plays a 1988 Les Paul Goldtop with P90s, a 1976 ES-335 with Bigsby, and a 1959 ES-125T.