Listening to Doug Hoyer’s full-length debut album, I found myself curious about Canada for the first time in my life. Hoyer, the Alberta native, has created a love story of sorts in Walks with the Tender and Growing Night, part ode to his beloved country, part celebration of all that is young and carefree. I do not think I have ever felt more of an urge to visit Canadia, land of elk and maple syrup, since his album mesmerized me into thinking the trip might just be worth it. Walks reminds me a lot of childhood: a wide-eyed, unabashed outlook on life suffuses Hoyer’s songs. Frankly, the tunes are fun, easy listening, and best of all, the charming quirkiness of his lyrics will make you want to play the album over and over. I promise you won’t get bored.
On the first track, “Little Things,” Hoyer sings about what inspires him in everyday life: “Things like the ladybug, who relieves itself on your jeans/The Northern Lights that shine so bright atop the trees,” which was when I first began to wonder about this rather large country adjacent to ours. Did insect excrement really have the power to make people up there happy? I only had time to smile as Hoyer’s soaring voice continued, singing “The Summer sun/When noon is high/The gentle breeze whispers.” Combining dreamy space imagery with ukulele and folk, Hoyer’s tracks will get stuck in your head.
In what is probably my favorite track on the album, “Lakes on Mars,” the awesome percussion section and distorted guitar will have you running and dancing onto Healy Beach (pray the summer weather stays). The witty lyrics are numerous (“We’d watch the sun set over the lakes of Mars/I’d bring Trotsky, Trudeau, and even Trebek”—two of whom are Canadian citizens, while the other guy, I’ll let you figure this one out, was detained in Nova Scotia for a month), and the hook will definitely get you singing in the shower.
Also, don’t miss the synth-pop that is “Northern Lights”—the first several seconds I could have been listening to the intro of a New Order song. This guy is nothing if not eclectic.
Walks quiets down by the end, sort of like a 6-year old after an inordinately high sugar intake and rough day on the playground, minus the crankiness. “Coast to Coast” beautifully ties together Hoyer’s love for Canada and the love he feels/felt for the people in his life: “Don’t treat your love like a passport, getting stamped on every page/It’ll fill up before you know it, with places you visit but never stay.” The last track, “Snow Bank,” with the guest vocals of Jessica Jalbert, is a more serious conclusion that looks back on love lost. Walks with the Tender and Growing Night is as satisfying as watching the sun go down on a midsummer’s eve, knowing you’ve still got more than a month until school starts up again.