Review Summary: Rich Aucoin is A.L.i.V.E.
Rich Aucoin has been recording We’re All Dying To Live for nearly three years, compiling over 500 musicians, friends, and fans from across Canada. The album acts as a musical scrapbook of his trek to completion, sonically documenting where he’s been, who he’s met, and what’s happened to him along the way. It combines two of his previous EPs and other material, but it certainly isn’t a compilation album. That fact is even easier to take in as the cohesive nature of the album is understood, for Aucoin has been building up to this moment for a long time. Fresh out on his debut album, Rich Aucoin wants to start something big. Whether that something is a full-blown revolution or just a really ass-kicking party, Aucoin spills his ambition all over these tracks. The result is a raging liquid cohesion, as a splurge of genre-melting sonics mold into a thrilling and captivating hour of music.
Aucoin wears his influences shamelessly, the most notable being the kaleidoscopic jams of The Flaming Lips, the infectious robotics of Daft Punk, and the climatic grandiosity of fellow Canadians Arcade Fire, though he translates that palette into his own ringing statement. The interlude “Even If All Your Friends Abandon You SMiLE” is a clear nod to The Beach Boys, both grammatically and sonically, as lite-tropical rhythms ride Aucoin’s surfing harmonies, before sailing into “Brian Wilson is A.L.i.V.E”. The harmonies of the interlude are greeted by a group of rocking UFOs, as the track turns into an elevated electro-banger. It’s a marvelous pop song, and one can only wonder when it will break into a deserving public consciousness.
It’s important to note how interludes and segues are used throughout the album, as some may mistake them for filler. This isn’t an album that’s meant to be heard through individual tracks, it’s meant to be heard as a whole. The shorter tracks only add to the sprawling nature of the album, building and building into its varying statements. For example “The Little Creatures Know” is the opener of “It”, a vastly orchestrated track with a towering chorus. “The Greatest Secret In the World” takes that sound and subtly bows it out, before being engulfed by the Chemical Brothers-esque beats of “Watching Ice Station Zebra for the 151st Time”. This structure proves that, rather than a set of songs, We’re All Dying To Live is an experience to be taken from beginning to end.
While the album shoots in all kinds of directions sonically, there are two constant themes here amongst the rubble: life and death. In his own words, Aucoin sums up the album's underlying theme, “It doesn’t have to be a sad feeling. Thinking about death is also thinking about how great life is.” We’re All Dying To Live is proof of his claim, and while the music deals with grave and somber subjects, the music is always gratifying, optimistic, and affirming. It’s a bold statement not only in a musical sense, but in a conceptual sense, and when the two merge it evokes a feeling only the best can attain - goosebumps.