Published on May 27th, 2024 | by Matt Stinn


Local Music: Dump Babes – ‘Known Liar’

Saskatoon-export Dump Babes unveiled their second full-length album “Known Liar” on May 13th. Unlike most new releases that I listen to once and immediately write initial thoughts, I let ‘Known Liar’ stew a little. Perhaps that’s because the album opens on a meandering slow burn called ‘Citronette?’ Who knows. Either way, I’m happy I gave this record time to grow on me. 

Citronette starts off with an unsettling arpeggiating guitar line that is slowly built with the addition of a subtly driving drum beat and the slow rise of a synth pad. Singer Aurora Wolfe’s vocals slot themselves effortlessly into the established groove and the various elements push back and forth on each other. This constant push and pull without a true moment of relief continuously builds across the nearly five minute track until exploding into an instrumental section that shows off the synth contributions of Barrett Ross (a new-ish member or the band). 

Next,  we’re hit with ‘Criminal.’ This song follows a more traditional verses chorus format with builds and drops. Upon my initial listen I connected quickly to this track. Interesting moments of string noise and chucks from one of the band’s guitarists accent the sparse verse arrangements and help build the track towards a danceable chorus that feels disco-adjacent. To me, the true standout moment on this track is the bridge – it functions as a second hook and then plays out into a final/larger iteration of the song’s chorus.

‘Known Liar,’ the albums third (and title) track is an oddball that takes some very unexpectable chordal turns. Again, I catch myself really digging into this song’s bridge. Featuring either a very low guitar or a high bass solo,  this bold move lands perfectly and propels the song into a final chorus while avoiding a more standard sounding guitar solo. I’m a sucker for tracks that play contrary to the expected outcome and I feel like this song did just that.  

‘Salome’ leans on a drum and bass rhythm that reminds me Dump Babes started out as what I would dare call a garage-folk band. Whatever trope is being shown here is again quickly dispelled by an interesting semitone walk down from the vocals towards the end of the first verse. An effective pre-chorus pushes into the type of chorus I can imagine hearing from a festival stage in the near future. I really enjoyed how this track pushed farther into the rock territory that the band explores on this release. The final cherry on top was when I was treated to a sonic battle between guitars and oscillating synths, vying for my attention on the song’s outro. 

‘Bitter,’ the fifth track, starts out with a syncopated drum beat that serves the accompanying guitar line flawlessly while reminding the listener that drummer Eric MacNeil is what’s really holding this group’s performance together. The chorus of this track promptly features a vocal line I can imagine being shouted back to the band by an eager audience. “Looking around I found the pleasure in being sour” is a line that instantly stood out to me. When asked about this track Wolfe mentioned how the track was inspired by ‘Let This Darkness Be A Bell Tower’ by Rainer Maria Rilke – a poem that was read at the funeral of Jill Mack (Former bassist of Dump Babes).

‘Heavy Eyes’ is my personal favourite track on this record. Perhaps that’s because it plays the most like a traditional indie rock track? I’m a sucker for a good build and release – and this track gives me that in spades! Aside from killer choruses, this song also features my favourite bridge on the album. Quickly changing from a driving feel to a relaxed back and forth conversation between the bass and synths, This feels like the type of section I could listen to on repeat indefinitely. “I know, I know, nothing’s permanent,” echoes from Wolfe before the track finally winds down into a standalone drum beat. Based on how the album started, I would almost expect this to be the closer track but I quickly saw why it wasn’t. 

‘Smoking’ – an acoustic track – starts with the distinctive sounds of Saskatoon river at spring time. Hundreds of shrieking geese gather at the weir to try and find a mate. This serves both as a tongue in cheek reference to the band’s hometown but also immediately has me envisioning where the final track of this album is being performed – on the back porch of a home by the river. “I’m smoking with my mother on the back porch,” and, “truth be told, I agree with her,” are lines that immediately stood out to me in the intimate vocal performance that addresses how time brings past trauma to light. With that being said, this song remains reflective and has an almost uplifting feeling of realization to it. It is a very fitting way to end a record that tackles a lot of heavy feelings.

All in, ‘Known Liar’ is an album that reads as both a collection of distinct musical ideas and a love letter to a dearly missed friend. Dump Babes have refined their off-brand disco-adjacent indie rock into a formidable band that acts as the perfect base to present complex emotional ideas through.

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is a Saskatoon-based award winning producer, touring musician, and cat lover. When not working in the music industry he hones his skills as an amateur writer and professional little spoon.

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