With a clipped, martial beat, multifarious percussion, and gang vocals, “Sound the Alarms” has the vibe of something at once urgent and good-natured. It’s hard not to feel welcomed in by a song that begins: “Bad luck, my generation/The good ideas have all been taken.” Most of the lyrics, except the title phrase, are subsequently swallowed up by the ambiance, but a worthy ambiance it is, with the refreshing feeling of musicians actually playing and singing together at the same time in the same room. We’re I think supposed to get worked up about something, but not quite so worked up that we want to put down our instruments.
And I say yes, if you’re going to have a song dominated by a strong, repetitive beat, do exactly this: throw all sorts of percussive sounds into the mix, and if some of them sound like pots and pans, all the better. Invite a guitar in for a scorching solo two-thirds of the way through and you’ve just about got your song. (To be clear, I speak here without irony. I like this a lot. Sometimes I like tragic, sometimes I like fun. It’s a big world.)
A quintet from Vancouver, Immaculate Machine is fronted by childhood friends Brooke Gallupe and sometime New Pornographer Kathryn Calder; the band, at that point a trio, was featured on Fingertips in 2007. “Sound the Alarms” is from their fourth full-length CD, High on Jackson Hill, released this week on Mint Records.