Life is good in Toronto, where fledgling rockers The Danks have recently nested, filling the local airwaves with feel-good energy. GANK, the sophomore effort of the Charlottetown natives, hit the shelves earlier this month, marking the end of a four-year hiatus which left the future of the young but talented Maritime band in question. Since the release of their debut EP In Alright in 2006, The Danks have gone through a couple personnel changes, swapping members with fellow Prince Edward Islanders Two Hours Traffic and The Robots before settling on their current four-piece, whose core members—singer-songwriter Brohan Moore and guitarist Alec O’Hanley (formerly of Two Hours Traffic)—pillaged The Robots’ set for bassist Phil MacIsaac and drummer Chris Doiron, a development matter-of-factly recalled by O’Hanley in an interview for Exclaim!: “We just kind of took their rhythm section. Well, borrowed, I guess.”
With blasé-hip turns of phrase (“I don’t care about always/I just sit back and it goes on and on”, “sharing a smoke in the park/telling your folks you’re honing your art”) and tip-toe ebullience, The Danks are at their best entertaining partygoers, concerned more with having fun than critical scrutiny. They’re masters of the hook, delivering teenage anthems about small-town woes in a neat sunshine-pop package. With tracks that get straight to the point, GANK runs a gamut of 11 songs in just over 30 minutes, breaking the three minute mark only twice. At times they manage to cast off their velvety twee strappings to flirt with the deeper convictions, but they inevitably dissolve back into a soundscape of druggy, carefree vibes. I was excited when the latent electronic embellishments of the garishly backbeat “Sharpshooter” transform into the album’s prog-rocky centerpiece “Octagonal” and the slightly-warped, Flaming Lipsian psychedelia of “Genre Tourism,” but it’s followed up by strum-heavy Green Day retrograde, the fun but rather monophonic pairing of “Sycamore” and “Big Picture.”
The Danks are an easy band to get along with, in that its familiar pop formulas have you humming the tune before it even starts. You can practically sing Twist and Shout on top of “Experimental Fiction,” the hazy vocals of which blend into the background in shoegazing fashion—and by the way, Moore’s characteristic raspy voice seems endearingly appropriate for a band whose name connotes good weed (a technicality which, according to an interview on pastarunmusic, entirely escaped Moore, who “never thought of checking Urban Dictionary”). Between the wonderfully melodic “Who Is You?,” the adorable “Sharpshooter” and the bittersweet album-finisher “Dreads,” an anecdotal outlier on an otherwise amped-up album brimming with stammering guitar riffs and basic chord cycles, The Danks both affirm their status as schoolgirl crush generators and reveal their distinctive talent as up-and-coming songsmiths.