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Edmonton’s Doug Hoyer first came to attention in his native Canada back in 2004 as a cast member on the CBC reality show Rock Camp – a spin on School of Rock that followed musically inclined teenagers in their efforts to form bands at the titular camp. Since then, he’s been releasing a steady stream of product that usually somehow manages to bring a synth-pop spin to the odd wave of ukulele music that’s been all the rage of late.
Hoyer left the ukulele in its case for “Northern Lights,” a track from his new album Walks With the Tender and Growing Night. Instead, Hoyer unspools a straight up dance track that sounds like a lot like the sorts of bands that popped up in the mid-1980s who desperately wanted to be New Wave whether or not New Wave wanted them – bands like Animotion, the Eurogliders and Re-Flex. It’s a perky piece of ear candy with a synthesizer hook so indelible that resistance is futile no matter how much the listener might try to fight it.
“Northern Lights” most resembles what The Magnetic Fields might have sounded like if Stephin Merritt had ever chosen to take the synth-pop tendencies of his early work into full-on dance territory. It’s not hard to imagine Merritt penning a chorus like “You can dig for silver and gold / But you can’t mine the northern lights / And you can chase the sun all day / But the moon still brings the night,” especially when Hoyer delivers them in a baritone that might fool Merritt’s own mother into thinking it’s her boy singing them.
I have no idea how Rock Camp played out and if Hoyer’s combo ended up winning any sort of competition it might have included (heck, for all I know he may have been a counselor and not a camper). Based on “Northern Lights,” though, it’s safe to say he was paying attention when they were teaching how to write and record catchy pop songs.
Click here to listen to Walks With the Tender and Growing Night on Spotify.