Published Sep 06, 2017In one of the tenderly hilarious audio skits that punctuate Partner's debut, In Search of Lost Time, band member Josée Caron's dad, a PEI schoolteacher, proclaims that, "the world needs a good band right now… one that is going to excite people again… like KISS."
He's not wrong.
But while Partner, co-fronted by Caron and Lucy Niles, are among the most exhilarating new bands in Canada, their rise to prominence is far less gaudy than that of Gene Simmons et al. Yet like chest-puffing arena rock bands of a mostly male variety, Partner's charm is thanks in part to the uninhibited personalities of Niles and Caron. (One of the album's skits is called "Piss Pants Tampon." It ends with the two friends cackling over the specifics of female anatomy.) But their confidence and humour aren't at the expense of decency, which differentiates Partner from rock bands before them. When Partner sing about sexuality it's not oppressive, it's convivial.
"Our belief is that the idea of rocking is pure, and a very natural thing. We want to remind people of that in a safe and welcoming environment," says Caron.
Niles and Caron, both in their mid-20s, have been recalibrating the tenets of rock since they met at university in New Brunswick. It was there that they played in bands such as Yellowteeth, the Mouthbreathers and Go Get Fucked. Now based in Windsor, ON and decidedly committed to the euphonious rock of Partner, the two are making names for themselves by subverting all that's odious about the genre — and energizing the rest. (Niles and Caron are joined by band mates Kevin Brasier, Brendan Allison and Dan Legere.)
Though odes to chilling such as "Comfort Zone" and "Daytime TV" present an image of slackerdom, Partner's ambition and perfectionism are as undeniable as their talent. It may seem like a joke to sing the praises of marathon-ing Dance Moms in sweatpants and dining on frozen pizza, but there's realness at work here, subliminally cruising alongside lyrics about being high in the grocery store. Even within the elusiveness of "Gross Secret" and the playful self-incrimination of "Sex Object" there is familiarity — Partner take shame and augment it through amusement.
"A lot of the stuff we write involves thinking back to our younger selves, from the perspective of an older, more powerful person," Niles says. "We're trying to send the message that even though things are really serious, there's always something joyful that you can laugh your ass off at.
"I recently dropped my sunglasses in a toilet that was full of a stranger's pee," continues Niles, on the subject of "Gross Secrets." "I rinsed them off and kept going. I'm wearing them as we speak."
Perhaps the coupling of masterful musicianship and placid lyrics about loafing are a brilliant statement about millennial life in 2017. (And isn't slacking just self-care?) There's something hospitable about Partner and the rawness with which they reveal themselves.
"What helps me feel less vulnerable is knowing that I'm working with the pure ideas of rock, which at its core is beautiful," says Caron. "That takes the self out of it."
As leisure-loving as Partner may seem, their ethos is altruistic.