On Departing, its second long-player, The Rural Alberta Advantage stays true to the bare-bones, Neutral Milk-spiked folk-pop formula with which it began. In fact, the Toronto trio has taken to refining and blowing it up further, augmenting those bits of influence with tasty results. The opening strummer, “Two Lovers,” kicks things off in spry, Shins-like fashion before chief Albertan Nils Edenloff quickly makes the switch to keys for the cold hum of “The Breakup,” a companion tune on which he calmly bleats “the ice is gone, you’ll leave me, too.” Throughout Departing, RAA keep the tones very cool, be it in the serrated guitar stomp of “Muscle Relaxants” or the frigid twinkle of “North Star.”
That particular sonic palette does a great deal of good for Edenloff’s visions of Canadian expanse as well as his hot-blooded, heart-wringing tales of leaving town and loved ones. Still, when these three reach for anthemics rather than the quiet of simple acoustic fare, they’re better off for it. “The Stamp” cribs its backup-vocal style from Funeral-era Arcade Fire, but does so smartly: Its final two minutes offer a more exhilarating expression of love than any other lament to be found here.