Despite being released in America and Canada over a year ago, Kathryn Calder’s debut solo album Are You My Mother? is still music to get excited about. Calder is somewhat a veteran of the Canadian rock scene, having cut her teeth in indie-pop trio Immaculate Machine and later, in 2006, replacing Neko Case in The New Pornographers. That Are You My Mother? bears an unmistakable resemblance to the latter act is no great surprise, nor is it an indictment on the fine collection of songs on offer here. In essence, it’s ten tracks of bittersweet twee-pop, the kind of record that might be designed to soundtrack the sequel to Juno or 500 Days of Summer. In the wrong hands, this cutesy brand of baroque folk can be a little on the nose, but Calder grounds her music in a melancholic majesty, a tonal focus on life, love, death and the redemptive power of grief. In this way, Calder may inadvertently have positioned herself as the feminine reply to Ben Gibbard, mimicking both his melodic theatricality and emotive wordplay. Regardless, it’s likely this record is already coveted by legions of inhibited twenty-somethings across the Atlantic, and is now finally being delivered to a similar audience in the UK and Europe.

Written during the final year of her mother’s terminal battle with motor neuron disease, each song on Mother seems anchored in emotional transgression. ‘Slip Away’ features stark piano and hushed vocals as Calder laments that she’s ‘holding onto something lost’, before crackling snare drums open up an infectious Pornographers-style groove. Similarly, ‘Down The River’ begins as an orchestral farewell to times gone by, but erupts into cascading elegiac guitars and crashing percussion. Calder hits more restrained tones in ‘Arrow,’ and especially ‘So Easily,’ where a haunting harmony by Neko Case produces layers of melancholic sentiment. ‘If You Only Knew’ is the feel-good indie hit of the summer (or last summer, depending who you talk to), replete with mandatory handclaps and gang vocals, and is sure to end up on ill-conceived mixtapes for gangly, lovesick hipsters.

At times, Mother struggles to balance the competing styles and moods of each song, veering chaotically between proclamations of joy and declarations of loss. But then human emotion is not straightforward or black-and-white. Rather, it operates at all times on a precipice, teetered to fall one way or another. Somehow, Calder’s music, despite lacking the polish and grandeur of The New Pornographers, taps into a human vulnerability, the frailty of her vocal underscoring the impermanence of life. It’s catchy as hell too, which never hurts.