With their brand new sophomore album, Patina, Toronto-based indie pop band TALLIES have found a way to expertly walk that razor-thin tightrope, nodding to their favorite bands of the past while transforming their sound into something tight, bright, and undeniably fresh.
Tallies started in earnest when singer Sarah Cogan, guitarist Dylan Frankland, and drummer Cian O’Neill began collaborating in late 2017. A proto-version of the band began at Algonquin College, when Sarah met Dylan during a music engineering course that saw the two become lab partners. All throughout their career, they’ve dove into the bands that would influence their sound–the Sundays, the Smiths, Aztec Camera–all while adding their own signature elements; Sarah’s airy-yet-arresting vocals, Dylan’s stunning gossamer guitar work, Cian’s astronomic drumming.
They got down to business rather quickly, as in 2019, their debut self-titled album was released on Hand Drawn Dracula in Canada and Kanine Records in the United States. Solidifying the band’s stature as Canada’s leading dreampop scholars, its mix of upbeat pop hooks and heady, larger-than-life production won the band critical acclaim from the indie underground to the mainstream alike. They began work straight away on a second record, which would prove to be an even more life-affirming endeavor than their debut.
All albums are labors of love by definition of the term, but the recording of Patina was particularly challenging at points. In the throes of the pandemic, was torn between the pressures of writing a record in lockdown, and using all the extra time they had to polish and refine what they had already begun. It was during this process that Tallies began a working friendship with one of their musical heroes—Simon Raymonde, ex-Cocteau Twins bassist and founder of Bella Union, caught wind of Tallies and made it his mission to sign the band. Through transatlantic phone calls, Tallies were able to deeply connect with a member of one of their favorite bands; “a light at the end of the tunnel,” explains Sarah.
The juxtaposition of light and dark is a strong theme in the music of Tallies. While many of their tunes are upbeat, with Dylan’s breezy guitar lines drenched in reverb, soaring over Cian’s propulsing drumbeats, Sarah’s lyrics can add a hint of shadow to even their most jangly tunes. Patina’s first single, “No Dreams of Fayres”, speaks of a severe depressive episode during Sarah’s teen years that was mirrored during the making of the album, and elsewhere on the album, “Hearts Underground” describes the slippier side of personal relationships over effervescent indie pop—undercut, of course, by a deliciously discordant guitar solo. “I think that’s an interesting part about the music,” says Dylan about these sonic contrasts. “There are these conflicting elements. The music can be upbeat, but you’re talking about the realities of life.”
In addition to its tight songwriting and composition, Patina’s lush soundscapes were produced by Graham Walsh of the stalwart art-rock band Holy Fuck (who has also helmed records by Alvvays, Metz and Bully). The album also features Grammy-nominated cellist Michael P. Olsen (Arcade Fire, Drake) and percussionist Peter Anderson (The Ocean Blue), who also contribute the leveling-up of Tallies’ sound. Another standout track, “Wound Up Tight” takes the group in a heavier direction than ever before. It’s true to their sound, but represents a step up, a conscious evolution.
There we are again: that balance of nostalgia and forward-thinking that Tallies do so well. Yes, they are holding the torch high for the dreampop fans, but have put in the work to appeal to alternative music fans of all ages. The title of the album’s closer says it all: “When Your Life Is Not Over” an ode to looking towards the future, not back into the things that defined you, but forwards into what you have the power to create. And for Tallies’ it’s clear that there’s much, much more of that to come.
Patina released Friday July 29th, 2022 via Kanine, Bella Union and Hand Drawn Dracula Records.
“The top 100 Canadian songs of 2022” – CBC MUSIC
“this quartet hit a melancholy sweet spot between The Sundays, Sarah Records and Slowdive” – Q
“Tallies outperform expectations and presents a band to watch” – THE DAILY MIRROR
“this Toronto-based quartet inject sufficient Sundays / Cocteaus-ish vocal and melodic bounce to soften even the most calcified indie heart” – MOJO
“Chuck in a dollop of shoegaze and dream-pop, and a smidgeon of surf pop, and you’ve got a rather lovely complete package.” – CRACK
“Combining upbeat drum beats, melodic bass riffs, jingly guitar leads, and fluttery vocals, TALLIES gives out a soft, yet bouncy ray of sunshine.” – ROUGH TRADE
“both brooding and bright, merging jangly, psychedelic guitar tones with a crashing beat that runs into the distance with vocalist Sarah Cogan’s angelic vocals.” – THE LINE OF BEST FIT
“Tallies is less an album than an old book of secrets, passed down from one generation to the next when the right age has come.” – BANDCAMP ESSENTIAL RELEASE
“Dreamy guitar pop with that Canadian sensibility, with influences ranging from The Pastels to The Sundays, Orange Juice, and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.” – CLASH
“Working together like a team of gifted archeologists, the band have created the best kind of backward-looking album. It doesn’t just repeat the past, it mines it for gold while tossing out the dross, a process that works to refine this record until it gleams like a precious gem.” – ALLMUSIC
“Sounding fresh and exciting whilst fully highlighting not only Cogan and Frankland’s insatiable knack for crafting timeless melodies, but also the taut rhythm section of bass player Stephen Pitman and drummer Cian O’Neill underpinning their every move… It’s also a glorious entrée of sorts to what promises to be a glittering career for its creators.” – 8.5/10 UNDER THE RADAR
BEST OF 2019 SO FAR – “a record that echoes so many of my favourite things” – DON LETTS / BBC RADIO
HDD092 · RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2022
Limited Canadian Signature Edition, HDD Obi Strip, jacket and board sleeve printed on coated stock, pressed on Green Copper 140g Vinyl, with Art Card signed by Tallies (edition of 100 signed).
Produced by Graham Walsh and Dylan Frankland
Engineered by Graham Walsh
Additional Engineering by Dylan Frankland
Mixed by Graham Walsh
Recorded at Palace Sound, Baskitball 4 Life, Candle Recording
Mastered by Noel Summerville
Artwork and Design by James Mejia
HDD070 · RELEASE DATE: January 11, 2019
“already hotly tipped to feature in many of 2019’s end of year Best Of lists – Tallies bares all the hallmarks of indie pop’s golden era” – DROWNED IN SOUND
“Best Music Releases Of The Week – Ready to roll my windows down and turn the volume all the way up” – NYLON
“Matching the songwriting prowess of The Sundays or Teenage Fanclub against the sheer lust for sound evident in the Cocteau Twins” – CLASH
“Like nostalgia, spring is temporary, and Tallies are nearing full bloom, with all the pieces to outlast any season” – 8/10 EXCLAIM!
“Their woozy, jangly sound brings to mind dream pop of the 1980s” – HYPE MACHINE
“on retrouve un feeling new wave eighties que n’aurait pas détesté un certain Morissey. Une belle découverte” – I HEART RADIO
“The guitars come right out of the 80s (and occasionally early ‘90s) for that jangling, chiming resonance and make for a dreamy soft-focus glow while the vocals bounce out to ace the sound.” – ROUGH TRADE
HDD064 · RELEASE DATE: March 2, 2018
Mother Track Premiere // The Strombo Show CBC Radio2 // LINK
“Tallies are the personification of basking in the first rays of the year. Tentatively hopeful and finally ready for whatever comes next.” – GOLD FLAKE PAINT
“Crafting the kind of woozy, surf-pop nodding gold that wouldn’t sound out of place blaring out of a busted cadillac cruising past Venice Beach” – DIY
“wonderful set of surfy-pop rock jangle guitar music – check them out!” – PHOTOGMUSIC
“While they’re still in their relative infancy, you might want to get out and see them live, so you can say “I saw them when…” – THE 405
“Tallies have a jangly sound that at times recalls The Smiths, The Sundays and other ’80s alt bands, but singer Sarah Cogan’s smoky vocals pull things into other territory” – BROOKLYN VEGAN