Wave 21 delivers direct, well played and melodically strong music appealing to a wider audience than purists. Their style is described as country rock, but it is limiting as a label. Wave 21’s songwriting from sisters Mary Lynn and Emmy Lou Doroschuk definitely touches on country and faint rock influences, but there’s an undeniable intelligent pop sophistication with their songs unlike much of what we hear from this style today. The sisters are the talented offspring of Men Without Hats’ producer and guitarist Stefan Doroschuk and their talents on display are the results of working at their craft since an early age. Their father joins them in Wave 21 as a bassist and violin player while, as well, playing the role of producer for this superb sounding release. This Montreal based band, however, isn’t just a way for the Doroschuk’s to get their music out there – Wave 21 plays like a full fledged outfit and never disappoints.
There’s definitely a rock influence in the band’s music, even if we don’t hear it often, and the reverberating drums leading us into the first song “Ya Ya Ya” soon settles sonically and establishes a lean, surging groove. The refrain of the song title reflects the joy at the heart of this performance better than any of the lyrics, but those are nonetheless quite fine for what the song requires. Mary Lynn Doroschuk’s voice immediately captures your ear and, despite the obviously fine quality of her voice, she never “over sings” or attempts to dominate the track. Instead, Doroschuk shapes her voice to each of the album’s ten songs and it makes these tracks immeasurably stronger efforts. The lead guitar has a delicious twang without ever sounding over-exaggerated, but acoustic guitar lays down a consistent groove across the entirety of the song.
“Love Shouldn’t Make Me Cry” has a great sound, the instruments seeming to entwine rather than sounding like your typically structured performance, and there are some moments really standing out in the arrangement. The rhythm section contributions are the most important thing in bring this song off with Stefan Doroschuk’s bass playing bringing some intensely creative fills into the performance. You can’t help but admire how they put this one together. “The Fun Times” is another achievement on the album. The band proves they aren’t above confounding a listener’s expectations and add a song to the album notable for a number of reasons, its hard-earned wisdom simply put among them.
The final high point for me is the song “Catch Me”. This is a country influenced gem with a decided pop sensibility, particularly in how well the Doroschuk sisters refurbish the theme with their own spin on the tradition, and it sounds like the best chorus to me on an album full of them. Wave 21 are going to gain considerable notice thanks to the quality of this album and sound well on their way to long, respected careers. The ten songs on this debut are full of lessons you cannot teach.