Catching Ladyhawk’s show during Sled Island was revelatory; fans horseshoed around the stage, waving fists and belting back lyrics. People were not just mouthing words by rote, but screaming them passionately, eyes closed. The revival of crowd surfing with teenage abandon left footprints on the ceiling — when Lionel Ritchie sang about dancing on the ceiling, he must have been prophesying that night. Of all the bands that played during Sled Island, one would be hard-pressed to find another that garnered such a frenzied and joyous response. The place was completely bazonkers.
But it seemed like it was all just a tease. Given the five-year gap between Ladyhawk records, as well as the release of two records from the assorted members — the excellent solo effort from Duffy & the Doubters and the full-length from drummer Ryan Johnson and guitarist Darcy Hancock under the name Sports — one was left with the impression that the members of Ladyhawk had moved on to other things. The release of Ladyhawk’s third full-length, No Can Do, quells those doubts.
Guitarist Duffy Driediger says that an end was never in sight. “We got pretty burnt out touring for our last record. It’s not like we were ever, ‘Let’s not play together,’ everyone just went down their different paths for a little while. We were still friends; we were still hanging out, just not playing music very much. There was never any talk of it being over. People were doing different things and focusing on living life rather than being in the band full time and taking it super seriously.”
For all that, the hiatus has done them well. Thankfully, for diehard fans as well as for the uninitiated, No Can Do stays true to Ladyhawk form, an infectious combination of Canrock and power-punk, a little bit of Silkworm hooks and a dash of that distinctive B.C. brand of stoner culture. As well, Driediger’s songwriting continues to mine the familiar territory of albums past; opener “Footprints” is a slow-burner, lulling one in with a blanket of fuzz and warmth, whereas the title track is a sing-along that harkens back to crowd-pleaser “The Dugout” off the self-titled LP. With a winning formula like this, Ladyhawk are wise not to stray from it.
The thing that has changed, though, is Driediger and co.’s demeanour. “It’s different because a lot of time has passed — five years since we last recorded. Before, we cared more whether people were going to like it, but now we’re just having fun. Who gives a shit whether people like it or not. Not in a negative way, but there’s not as much riding on it, emotionally, at this point. We’re doing it because it’s fun and we like it.”