Julie Doiron | I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day
Most Likely To: make you wish Doiron were heartbroken more often.
My feelings concerning prolific singer/songwriter Julie Doiron’s I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day are mixed as mixed can be.
Her starker songs like “Heavy Snow” make me want to squeeze the headphones into my ears in an effort to get closer to them. It’s in these songs that she uses that soft, delicate voice to belie its youthful feel with minor-key melodies and lyrics about isolation. She’s capable of approaching the austerity of Woelv, a fellow Canuck with a greater taste for experiment and noise.
The reverb-heavy folk dirge “Blue” may be the album’s highlight. Here, she steps away from cuteness and sings about the decision to no longer pursue love. “I decided long ago / never to laugh again / never to love again … never to cry again / never to love again.” Each of the sparse notes and chords she plays on the electric guitar in this song sounds like an anchor into a plausible sea of loneliness, rippling outward toward plausibly unreachable shores. This is when Doiron is at her best; when she’s not writing about being heartsick but simply being heartsick.
Then there are moments when her lyrics and kitten-soft voice can be a bit too adorable. “Nice to Come Home,” is a good example, with lines like, “I turn on my little lamp / and finally sit down / and pick up my gee-tar / and give it some strums / and I think of you in New Brunswick / I think of you in your little house / I think of you in your comfy bed.” It doesn’t take a cynic to groan at these lyrics when they’re paired with similarly cloying melodies.
With I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day, Doiron again proves herself very capable of complex sad songs, but her upbeat tunes on this record come across as a form of regression into childishness, a vain attempt to escape the melancholy of a serious breakup. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the album’s closer, “Glad to Be Alive,” which has the misfortune of following the crushingly effective “Blue” and rings a bit hollow in its claims of a joie de vivre.
Listen to “Consolation Prize” from Julie Doiron: