Tropic Harbour is Mark Berg’s bedroom project, born out of the need for escapism. Anyone who has experienced a cold Canadian winter might understand why someone would feel the urge to paint a world of sun soaked landscapes and bright, spacey colours, just to keep their sanity. His latest album, Glowing Eyes, is this dream pop expressionism of Berg’s alternate universe, one that he’s invited his listeners to join him in.
Like in most dream pop, Berg has created a fantasy world. The album has an overlay of melodic guitar riffs that pass through the tracks like gentle waves. The guitar serves as as paint brush for Tropic Harbour. Slowly whisking himself away from the dreary darkness of Edmonton’s winter, he hides in a utopian paradise of his own creation.
Overtop of his delicate and colourful instrumentation, Berg sings about his relationships as they fit into the image of paradise. This does not necessarily mean every situation he find himself in is without fault, but rather he hides his problems beneath the imaginary landscapes. “Now here we are, completely free/Surrounded by an ocean of clouds/Hiding what’s beneath,” he sings on “Mountain Islands.” While the lyrics may work with the imagery of the album, the vocals are much harsher than the melodic guitar tonality. At times, Berg sounds like a poet, sharing his desires with us, and at other times, it sounds like a blunt contrast from the rest of the music.
Berg is most successful at finding his dreamy groove on the album’s final track, “Pastel.” The title of the song is enough to describe the overall colour scheme of what we can hear throughout the album, but it also provides a nice blend between vocals and guitar. On “Pastel,” Berg is hopeful in returning to the beginning of a relationship. The message is positive, but there is a sort of melancholy feeling that flows through the track. The songs seems to bring some kind of finality to the paradise, and is perhaps a way for Berg to sum up his day dream. Or, he is simply allowing us to float back to the beginning of it all: “
You’ve got my attention/Now go back to where we started from.”
Or stream the whole EP