Tag: Luke Telford
Kurt Vile has never sounded so refined. Wakin On a Pretty Daze isn’t just the cleanest-sounding material he’s recorded, it’s also the most carefully written and considered. Gone is the snarling enigma hiding behind the passive-aggressive folk and single-note psych freakouts of his relative youth. This is basically a classic rock album, for better or worse.
Actress, AKA Darren Cunningham, knows dance music well, and is devoted to rearranging its components in new and beautiful forms. Last year’s R.I.P. seems like a dance record if you skip through it – the textures and structural pragmatism speak loudly of that vast generic umbrella. A closer spin shows each track’s stripped of bass and almost any discernibly danceable rhythm, revealing a heady collection of disintegrating ‘club’ facsimiles that glow like fading embers.
Calendar Days rakes its songs into an understated story. It’s ostensibly about a breakup, but it sounds as though the songwriters have plotted the whole tale out carefully, only to shred it, and form songs from strands they pluck out of the bin. Each piece is weighted with a gentle sadness that should speak to a number of young Australians – but many are rife with hope and humour, too.
Like its title/cover combo, the music on The Next Day looks back and forward, often to its detriment. On ‘If You Can See Me’, Bowie dons his ’90s prog/pop-god guise. Its manipulated vocal recalls the eerie spoken word intro to his 1984 homage, Diamond Dogs, and its labyrinthine structures smack of the heightened theatricality of his late ’80s/early ’90s albums, and how poorly some of that material has aged. ‘Dancing Out In Space’ suffers from the same weightiness, even if it starts with the levity of a beat nicked straight from Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’.
Mick Harvey has the air of one of your dad’s mates who used to be in a famous band and still regales you with stories to that effect when you’re both invited ‘round for dinner. It always seems like talk until he puts his glass of wine down and picks up a guitar, at which point you realise that there’s more than a little magic still burbling beneath the surface. Some of Harvey’s songs fall short of the mark tonight – ‘Summertime In New York’ comes off as a lazily put-together blues number that lends itself too well to the ‘dad rock’ impression – but others are stunning. The best tune pairs calmly insightful lyrics with slow chords to form a ghostly ballad. Harvey’s backing band (upright bass and another guitar) illustrates it well; the guitar evokes a distant train, while the bassist bows plangent, heavy shapes into the Enmore’s cavernous hall. “Something to tell your grandchildren about. Definitely,” says Harvey.