Consilience began as many bands do: with one artist and her guitar, synth keyboard, and sundry bits of gear. Soon, though, standing alone on stage with her loop pedal grew tiresome for Tasy Hudson, the Edmonton, Alberta–based multi-instrumentalist, and she invited some friends to join. With her ever-expanding crew of bandmates (whose core members seem to include Louis Mendez, Aidan Lucas-Buckland, Dylan Howard, and a rotating cast from different local acts), she put out an EP in 2014, Walking Through a Dead Night, that filled in her sound in the realm of dream pop and indie rock.
Her first full-length, Under Our Beds, continues to fill in Hudson’s sound while maintaining a nod to her singer-songwriter origins. Mixing piano, electric guitar, synth, drums, and the occasional trumpet and strings, Consilience creates pop tunes with a contemplative side. Hudson mostly uses her voice softly, staying at a smooth half-whisper even as the instruments build around her, and her lyrics are introspective and intimate (“I never thought that you could see through my eyes / I always hoped that I would settle down in my life”). Beneath the layers of sound and against the intriguingly wandering melodies, you can detect the hand of one seemingly quiet person.
Under Our Beds, though, is at its best when the instrumentation doesn’t follow this hushed impulse of the vocals. The piano drives much of the album, sometimes skipping along in bright intervals (“Secrets”) or anchoring the song with robust chords (“Losing Your Head”) and often skewing towards a ballad style. While this fits the thoughtful romance of her lyrics, these piano ballads occasionally feel indistinct, with structures that never quite land. On the constantly shifting “The Only Time I Choose,” and others, this has a dreamy effect; in other songs, it is slightly distancing.
But some of the songs on Under Our Beds hit harder. On “Grim,” the album’s opener, buzzing and howling synth sounds and a cascading guitar riff keep the song grounded in a Mazzy Star-like alt-rock haze. On “Soft and Slow,” the trumpet and piano bounce against the swell of instruments and changing time signatures, carrying focus through the sunshiny song. Sometimes, Hudson’s voice intensifies or falls into a lower register, punctuating the sweetness with a more striking edge.
“Consilience” is the unity of different disciplines, particularly in the practice of forming a grand theory. It’s an apt name for Hudson and her collaborators, who gracefully glide through the softer and harder moments by melding piano ballads with alt pop, indie rock, and the ethereal bliss of dream pop. Hudson ditched her solo act because she thought a fuller band could expand her horizons—consider them expanded.