Track-by-Track: Close Talker’s Achingly Intimate, Self-Reflective ‘The Sprawl’ Dwells in Vulnerability & Soul-Stirring Sound

Close Talker © Nicole Plett
Close Talker © Nicole Plett
Saskatoon’s Close Talker take us through their fifth album ‘The Sprawl,’ a cathartic, soul-stirring indie rock record whose profound depth and weight come to life with a quiet confidence.
for fans of Death Cab for Cutie, The National, Stars
Stream: “From Dark to Lightness” – Close Talker




We were young and trying to take over the world, and we seldom took time to reflect or understand the effects of our ambition.

Close Talker have never felt truer to their name than they do on their fifth album.

From the moment The Sprawl begins, Will Quiring’s voice feels intimate and vulnerable, coming to the ears like a heartfelt whisper from a friend. He sings gently into the mic, the band’s muted guitar strums and soft piano notes coalescing to form a warm, enchantingly immersive atmosphere. It’s a compelling scene, and no matter how loud the indie rock trio’s instruments get – and we assure you, they’re all experts at letting loose – Quiring’s singing never remains indelibly exposed, tender, and raw: It’s as if each of these eleven songs is a diary entry torn from the innermost depths of the soul, ready to be laid bare to the world.

And Close Talker achieve this by, well, talking closer to their audience than ever before.

A slew of spellbinding melodies, poetic lyrics, and downright beautiful vocal performances don’t hurt, either.

A cathartic, soul-stirring record with a profound depth and weight, Close Talker’s The Sprawl comes to life with a quiet confidence as the Canadian indie rock trio capture the highs and lows of their individual and collective lives in the band.

Nuanced and incredibly self-aware, it’s a breathtaking, up-close and personal exploration of dedication and sacrifice, artistry and personal growth, human connection, and what it means to dedicate your entire self to something.

The Sprawl - Close Talker
The Sprawl – Close Talker
this is now my exodus
I told the guys today
I’m not sure I can handle it
when nothing feels the same
it is what it is
to come into your own
and I now question everything
that I’ve been told
it is what it is
to reap what you sow
like when I drive out to the country
to be alone
I didn’t even know you when
you said you liked the feeling when I was around
and I should of told you then
all I’d do is talk you up then let you down
– “Exodus,” Close Talker

Released March 22, 2024 via Close Talker’s own Saskatoon-based indie label Slow Weather Music, The Sprawl is at once stunningly expansive and achingly intimate: Their first LP in five years is a cinematic and shiver-inducing deep-dive into the raw humanity of band members Will Quiring, Matthew Kopperud, and Chris Morien, who formed Close Talker together in 2012 and, pretty much until the pandemic hit in 2020, ran as fast and as hard as they possibly could – pushing themselves to their limits in pursuit of their passions.

Close Talker
Close Talker is Will Quiring, Matthew Kopperud, and Chris Morien © Nicole Plett



The Sprawl is a time capsule that chronicles the various feelings that surfaced during the aggressive years of the band between 2013-2019,” Close Talker tell Atwood Magazine. “We were young and trying to take over the world, and we seldom took time to reflect or understand the effects of our ambition. We wouldn’t trade any of it, but discovering how you want to grow and evolve as a person is never bad, but rarely painless.”

“We had decided to take a beat and tap the breaks; to reflect, and to grow. We’ve grown a lot as people and as a band. Our families have certainly grown in size, and that new perspective is profound. However busy life gets, we’ve learned that this band is a part of our DNA and stopping altogether was just never realistic. This album is accompanied by a fresh appreciation for how special the band is to us, and it compounds when we get to share it with people. We’re grateful that after all these years, we still get so fired up about music and being creative. The Sprawl marks a distinct shift for us altering the foundation of the band, while knowing it is truly a part of us, and letting it go just isn’t on the table. The album does reference some turbulence and doubts in past seasons, but ultimately it celebrates us arriving here, on the other side, with loud guitars and full hearts.”

The vision or attitude going in was the most reserved or patient compared to others,” they add. “In the past we’ve written and recorded very focused, intense, and immersive. Our first album Flux, we went to Montreal for a month and slept on the floor of the studio. It was a very compressed experience. The Sprawl, in contrast was very relaxed and healthy, but it took forever hah. We’d get together on Monday nights, if our kids weren’t super sick, and pick away at it. This allowed each arrangement and approach to breathe and evolve over time.”

Close Talker "Papier-mâché" © Nicole Plett
Close Talker © Nicole Plett



The trio describe their new album as patient, fresh, and (as a tribute to where so many of its songs were made), basement.

“The “sprawl” nods to the era of the band where we simply put our heads down and chased any and all opportunities in front of us. Some life giving, some not,” they explain. “We were spread thin and it was both beautiful and taxing. Much of the lyrics speak to this season, but the final note is all positive and reflects on the band being a part of us, like an appendage. We love music and all that comes with it.”

For Will Quiring, The Sprawl is the culmination of all of Close Talker’s work together and all their experiences to date; it could only ever exist at this juncture in time, once they’d made what they made and lived the lives they’ve lived together this past decade.

“I think you can hear a quiet confidence that could only be earned with time,” he reflects. “We’ve never been a band that caters, and we typically stick to our guns and instincts, but this record more than past – we really just rallied the three of us. We didn’t seek or even consider any outside council.”

“Another unique piece is that none of these songs were road tested or fully fleshed out in a live or jam space context. We wrote the skeletons together, but the songs really evolved in the studio over years. Typically, we write and revise and flesh things out fast. This album was a slow burn, and I think it is better for it.”

Close Talker © Nicole Plett
Close Talker © Nicole Plett



Highlights abound on this gentle giant of a record, starting with the smoldering, slow-burning album opener “Burn Out” – a song that sets the scene with its awe-inspiring musical display of hushed intimacy and unfiltered vulnerability. Each of the record’s four promotional singles (“Papier-mâché,” “Exodus,” “From Dark to Lightness,” and “Tall Boy”) is also worth mention.

Lead single “Papier-mâché” sees the trio delivering a sleek, cathartic indie rock upheaval from their darkest, innermost depths. “This kind of unfiltered, unapologetic self-exposure can be brutal – nobody ever said self-critique is “fun” – and yet, despite its mild tendency toward self-deprecation, this song has an uncanny way of invigorating our ears, refreshing our hearts, and lifting our spirits,” Atwood Magazine wrote in a review last year.

Yeah you’re moving up
Nothing’s gonna get in your way
The house feels like it’s papier-mâché
Is it enough
The way I’m growing up?
Thirty hit me square in the face
But I still can’t seem to get out my way
So would you settle for us
if you could choose right now?

If you only knew how you could ruin me…




Close Talker candidly describe the album’s third track, “Exodus,” as its thesis statement – the beating heart that captures, through both its lyrics and its music, what the whole record is all about. “I guess this is my exodus, been spit out of the Sprawl,” Quiring sings plaintively at the song’s start, dwelling in a moment of hauntingly intimate confessional introspection. “It’s how I seem to handle things, when all I’ve loved is resolved. And if my bloodshot eyes could talk, I think they’d say it all.”

“For years the band sat firmly on the front burner taking precedence over nearly everything. We chased opportunities, often spreading ourselves thin and not always taking time to recognize collateral damage. To be fair, we loved nearly every minute of it,” Quiring smiles. “‘Exodus’ leans into the quiet confidence that comes with realizing, maybe you’re not content. It doesn’t have to come shrouded with guilt, but rather comes with a sense of peace; just being self aware of your weaknesses, even if that weakness is ambition. Discovering how you want to grow is never bad, but also rarely painless.”

I guess this is my exodus
Been spit out of the Sprawl
It’s how I seem to handle things
When all I’ve loved is resolved
And if my bloodshot eyes could talk
I think they’d say it all
It is what it is
To come into your own
And I now question everything that I’ve been told
It is what it is
To reap what you sow
Because I’m not the kinda guy I used to know




Close Talker © Nicole Plett
Close Talker © Nicole Plett

Further notable moments worth mentioning include the dramatic, passionate eruptions and upheavals on “From Dark to Lightness,” the spirited guitar riffs and sleek, hair-raising chorus of “Miscue,” the seductively soft and soothing balladry of “The Silence III,” and the exhilarating four-minute instrumental, “And Am,” a beautiful display of the trio’s artistry that paves the way for the record’s radiant finale, “Chevy Floor.”

“At the very start of the song ‘Chevy Floor,’ there is a janky iPhone recording of us playing Crokinole (a sort of mini curling game, where you shoot buttons with your finger) and there is so much pure unadulterated joy,” Quiring says. “This clip was from our writing retreat at Chris’s cabin, and in many ways marks a distinct shift for us. We weren’t writing with an agenda, or prepping for a tour, or planning some big marketing thing; we were just hanging, writing, and sort of connected back with our roots and love for the band. It was a refreshing and joyful time, and I am glad we captured some of that. Fast forward four years, and those songs are now The Sprawl.

“Chevy Floor” is also home to one of Quiring’s favorite Close Talker lyrics. “It has a line that just reeks of honesty,” he laughs. “The line is, ‘All I want is watch the Raptors and have a beer.’ We were in the middle of our immersive silent headphone tour for our past album How Do We Stay Here? and there wasn’t an end in sight and a million variables and logistics each day. We lean on each other heavily in these seasons and always come through, but sometimes you just want to pop a cold one and put your feet up. Maybe in a decade, in our forties we will finally learn how to relax,” he laughs.

“Another song, ‘King George,’ which is more of a movement or interlude, has Matt’s daughter (two) saying a prayer at the end, and it is pretty cute. She butchers the words, but her heart was in the right place.”




Close Talker © Nicole Plett
Close Talker © Nicole Plett



Will Quiring, Matthew Kopperud, and Christopher Morien have weathered a lot together over these past ten-plus years.

The Sprawl is by no means a comprehensive autobiography – nor does it set out to be – but in plunging into their experiences as friends, bandmates, partners, and now parents, Close Talker create a breathtaking record of life lived one day at a time, in meaningful, memorable moments big and small. This isn’t a ra-ra party record; it’s a stop-and-smell-the-roses affair – a reminder to go outside every once in a while, to take stock of all the places you’ve been, who you are and who you’ve been, where you are now and where you’re going.

“I hope listeners dig it,” Quiring shares. “Ultimately I hope that it can push people into a headspace where they can relax and reflect and maybe connect with their best self. For us, music often acts as a little haven, and we hope that The Sprawl can be exactly that.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Close Talker’s The Sprawl with Atwood Magazine as all three members take us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their fifth studio album!

— —

:: stream/purchase The Sprawl here ::
:: connect with Close Talker here ::
Stream: ‘The Sprawl’ – Close Talker



:: Inside The Sprawl ::

The Sprawl - Close Talker

— —

Burnout

This one really sets the tone for the record. We feel it has equal portions of both patience and “buckle up, you’re in for a treat.” The song develops on its own terms, and in many ways reflects our new outlook on the band. From the earliest demos to the now complete song, this tune probably changed the very most, which is also kind of fitting. Historically we’ve never wrestled with a song long enough to let it evolve all the way back to its simplest form, but I am really glad we did.

Papier Mache 

This song reminds us of our favorite songs and bands from the glory days of guitar driven indie rock… you know, like a dozen years ago. That said, maybe we’re a dozen years late to the party, but to us, this song has a nostalgia to it, nodding to early Bombay Bicycle Club, Yukon Blonde, and other early influences for us. Lyrically this song comes off as gruff or even badass, but the truth is, it is about Will’s now two year old son; so when you hear the lyrics with that understanding, it actually exposes how soft we are as family men, hah.

Exodus

This song or sort of the thesis of The Sprawl. It’s the first proper chorus on the album, and speaks to this season of spreading ourselves thin in search of what was actually maybe there the whole time. The music and the bond of our band relationally has always been the glue, but sometimes it takes a beat to re-realize you love being down the rabbit hole, and making music with your best buds.

King George

The piano on this song was recorded on my iphone and a 120 year old piano. We had to edit out my wife yelling at me, as we were already running late, but I wanted to quickly capture the idea on a voice memo. Five years later, we dug it up, added some sauce, and a cute excerpt of one of my daughters saying a prayer at the end. When you fail to name a voice memo, it often tags your address or location. At the time we lived in the King George neighborhood in Saskatoon, so we thought that was fitting enough. We have no affiliation or commendation to any King George’s of the past hah.

Tall Boy

When we first wrote the music at Chris’s cabin, this demo was originally called Tall Boys and Matt, which was a dig at my lack of height vs. the other members of the band (who are freak tall) hah. As the song took shape and developed, the lyrics began to lean heavily on the influence of Will’s son James, who happens to be wildly tall as well. The title tall boy still worked, so we decided not to overthink it. Again, not super creative, but also poignant.

From Dark to Lightness

We’ve always said that this tune feels like a “journal entry anthem.” Big guitars and big feelings. This was an early song in the process and served as sonic compass. The record has a lot of intimacy, but this song revealed how we wanted to approach and capture the energy of our live shows. That notion is sort of like chasing a mirage, but nevertheless, I think we’re close here.

Miscue 

This tune took on new life when we finally captured some energetic drums to drive the song. We actually ended up muting a bunch of stuff in our session when we finally got the right drum performance. We are all total suckers for big dead drums, and that is why we love bands like The National, Grizzly Bear, and Mutemath etc. Sonically this song has some classic Close Talker elements from every era of the band over the past 12 years.

The Silence III 

Laid back sophistication is the best kind. When we write, we often just jam, lean into initial instincts and it’s very fluid. Then when we record we get calculated and intentional. This song combats that secondary instinct of structuring parts; and just remains very natural and spontaneous. The spacious arrangement lends to the lyrics. In contrast, and on a completely light note; while doing mix revisions, I was playing this song a lot around the house. My one kid joined in with flawless pitch and sang “see the moons out” and then proceeded to fully moon me. Two little butt cheeks mocking our musical masterpiece hah. A very poor interpretation of the rather deep song, but nonetheless a funny story and I was proud of their comedic timing.

The Reverie Had Died

This song digs into another layer of The Sprawl and our relentless touring in pursuit of whatever is just out of reach. Many of Will’s lyrics play tug of war with the feelings embedded in this season of sprawling out into the world, while trying to white knuckle the stability and love of our spouses and homes. Owning our part in it, and discerning how to grow, even if that means shedding some horse blinder ambition.

And Am

As of right now, this is the only song we’ve played live. It was a jam we wrote that just got out of hand. We wrote it as an interlude for a European tour, and it just got under our skin. We know it’s a choice to put a four minute instrumental on an indie rock album, but it’s a choice we’re happy with.

Chevy Floor

This one might be my fav on the record. It wrestles with the precision of hindsight and how the vibrancy of moments are never fully realized until down the line. It is a subject that we’ve talked about a lot, and when the lyrics of the album were all playing with this tension within this season The Sprawl we wanted to make sure the last word was positive and actually showcases how truly thankful we are. We wouldn’t trade it for anything and it’s not lost on us how special it is to create music and it’s our privilege to share it.

— —

:: stream/purchase The Sprawl here ::
:: connect with Close Talker here ::



— — — —

The Sprawl - Close Talker

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? © Nicole Plett

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