For five days in July (four of them foggy), the members of Dance Movie threw guitars, drums and voices up and down the stairwells of the Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, Nova Scotia. They shared rooms and floors, cooked and ate together, venturing outside once daily for a run to the general store.
The rest of the time, 10 to 14 hours a day, they—singer-guitarist Tara Thorne, bassist Trevor Murphy and drummer Josh Pothier—played music. What they took back to Halifax were 11 songs made under the laconic Pacific Northwestern guidance of John Goodmanson, who has produced records all over the world—five with Sleater-Kinney, including their triumphant return in 2015, as well as with Cloud Nothings, Los Campesinos and Blondie—but had never been to Nova Scotia, let alone made a record in a refurbished masonic lodge there.
The resulting album, Pierce, begins with a kick and a statement: “I never meant to make your heart my favourite thing.” It ends with a dissonant fade: “By then you’ll be gone.” What comes in between is a base of doubled guitars, ferocious drums and ganky bass tones upon which the band sets judiciously nuanced synths, elegant violin lines, backing vocals from Jennah Barry and Don Brownrigg, and at least one clap-and-shout-along.
If there is a Dance Movie ethos, it’s “heart first”—in the words, the music, in the people who make it. Pierce is the distillation of passion, melody, collaboration, and chemistry into a single heart, made tough by its exposure to the sea-salted air, but always soft at its core.