Sweden’s alluring iamamiwhoami (helmed by Jonna Lee) project began at the tail-end of 2009 with a bizarre stream of YouTube videos that were backdropped with frighteningly incredible electronic synths and pop melodies. As months went by we were slowly introduced to the mysterious Lee, albeit still to this day very mysteriously. Through video and song, the iamamiwhoami project has gone from being a mind-boggling tease to one of the most interesting and intriguing pop acts of the last 10 years. Lee is incredibly in-tune with the audio-visual aspect of her art – every single released on iTunes to date has had an accompanying video clip and the release of her (long, long awaited) debut album will be no different. Clocking in at a perfect nine tracks in total, each song on the record has its own video component (being released separately on DVD in September but available to watch on YouTube now) and, unlike most records that suffer from being anywhere between 3 and 6 tracks too long, KIN manages to present a flawless, cohesive, relevant and refreshing record. If you’re after stereotypical Swedish pop then you’re looking in the wrong direction, but that fact alone shouldn’t deter you from listening to what really is one of 2012′s best releases. There isn’t a dud in sight, not a bad egg anywhere – iamamiwhoami has exceeded most of our expectations since her first release and this record does not disrupt that notion.
Whilst it’s easy (and, perhaps moreso, lazy) to compare iamami’s sound to the likes of Bjork, Portishead and even fellow Swede’s The Knife (when, to be honest, things like the precious “Idle Talk” – a monolithic synth-ballad that is more Human League gone Swedish Acid Tab than Bjork), there’s something undeniably authentic and original about what is on offer throughout KIN. The sound of Lee’s voice with these very hypnotic synths and basslines is bliss to sit through, and subtle album opener “Sever” does so magically before merging itself into the slightly crazy and 100% amazing “Drops”, a chaotic moment in frantic beats and haunting harmonies. There’s a lot going on but not too much for you to be unable to keep up, which is perhaps what makes KIN such a reward to listen to. Another long-player highlight is “Rascal”, a slower-paced moment that harks slightly on the Kate Bush side of things (yes yes, more lazy comparatives) – should she ever find herself making electronica on Ableton Live that is. Stuff like “Good Worker” harks back to the original iamamiwhoami synths from their 2009/2010 video releases, and the album’s rattlesnake, titled “In Due Order”, is a mental, borderline demonic moment of glimmeringly dark proportions.
The final two moments on KIN are undoubtedly iamamiwhoami’s finest. “Kill” is a six and a half minute excursion into exactly the kind of goosebump-inducing sounds Jonna can generate – a song that builds upon itself into some seriously massive moments. The lyrics (if you can understand them – they’re all in English but sometimes you’d be pressed to realise it) are monstrously good too, but listen to Kill’s final two minutes and try to stop the waves of musical euphoria take over your senses – it’s the kind of climax that has been sent from the Music Gods.
The most commercially viable song on KINS (which does not necessarily mean it’s the record’s most conventional song because there isn’t a conventional moment among these nine pearlers) is the just-as-bonkers “Goods”, complete with one of those choruses that you’ll hear once and never forget. On a production level as well this is her most extravagant adventure by far and, fittingly, is the records breathtaking closer.
iamamiwhoami has come a long way since releasing 30 second YouTube videos that the general populous at first thought were Christina Aguilera. Such a debacle as that seems nothing more than a very distant memory in light of this truly impressive debut album. If you’ve never heard of iamamiwhoami and are a little disillusioned with pop music at the moment then you’ll find KIN to be an absolute revelation. It does everything that pop isn’t doing at the moment and hasn’t – really – been doing since Roisin Murphy decided to pop babies instead of music. KIN is definitely an album your high-brow ‘real music’ listener (WHATEVER THAT IS) can enjoy alongside your local pop freak.
SNEAKY SOUND SYSTEM
“From Here To Anywhere”
Saviours of Australian Pop and music’s greatest duo since The Pet Shop Boys, our very own answer to Xenomania and therefor Girls Aloud, Sneaky Sound System have returned with one of my most anticipated releases of the year. “From Here To Anywhere” picks up exactly where their flawless sophomore album “2″ (read my original review – which I still stand by 100% - here) left off; Sneaky still have one foot firmly planted in the past whilst keeping their other three feet directed straight toward the future. That exciting blend of 1980′s synths and 2000′s approach to electronica is back in full swing for Anywhere, and much like their previous effort, it too is nothing short of being breathlessly amazing.
The thundering bassline of album opener “Friends” is an immediate step in the right direction, brushing itself up against sexy guitar licks and sonically lending itself slightly to Roger Sanchez’s “Another Chance.” Within three seconds of the chorus dropping it’s easy to see there’s really no fucking around on From Here To Anywhere; Sneaky mean business, and the business of the day is perfect pop music. Big, big chorus with chunky upheaval-like production that rolls along effortlessly; It’s the Sneaky Way. The first two singles then follow, with current radio-topper “Big” being the best of the bunch. “We Love” – a deliciously clunky club track – seems like a wasted opportunity as the first single, sitting amongst nine other songs that are infinitely better than it. That’s not to say We Love isn’t a great song, but when there are so many other brilliantly put together songs on here it makes you wonder why it was chosen to kick off this new era when something as monumental as “Big” sat there, waiting its turn. “I Need You So” is the only other song on Anywhere that goes back to that ‘In The Club’ territory heard on “We Love,” except that I Need You So is the better of the two. If the guys really wanted a club-banger for the first single then this should have been the choice, at least from a commercial standpoint.
Glitter-bass rears its head for the stunning “Really Want To See You Again”, complete with lyrics that get it; “I was breakin’ outta rules for you… I don’t want to talk about you, but I really wanna see you again. I don’t want to think about you, but I really wanna see you again.” The best lyric? “Don’t get me wrong, only fools get me wrong, I’s a mess when I was with you.” Keep an ear out for the brilliant bridge/middle8 combo that absolutely slays.
Making small – but noteworthy – references to the influential Human League, particularly their classic “Don’t You Want Me Baby”, “Remember” is a highly dramatic production for a song that is one of the bands hardest, lyrically speaking. “Don’t tell me we were wrong from the start, don’t hide your heart away so it can’t get back to the sweetest part.” The heartbreak continues in songs like “I’m Not Leaving” (which is much like an updated offcut from Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight” L.P. – never a bad thing at all,) which is the closest Anywhere gets to serving a ballad.
One of the best songs on Anywhere “The Colours”, is destined to be a single at some point. BIG synths with a mind-blowingly tight chorus, everything comes to an exciting climax just after the middle 8 and I am telling you, you will know when this is happening because your ears will asplode everywhere. However, the biggest interest should be strummed for the records most stunning moment (well, perhaps after “Big”), and – typically – it’s a track called “1984.” “Maybe we can televise at the Minsitry of Love?” Miss Connie coos before launching into the biggest and most commercially viable moment on all of Anywhere. It’s an obvious pop cultural reference to the book of the same name and the lyrics suggest this from the moment it begins. Everything from the way it abruptly opens, The Divine Miss Connie’s talky-bits, Angus’ brilliant production – without a doubt in their Top 5 songs of all time.
The record comes to a close – perfectly only 10 tracks long – with Balearic-banger “Lovetown”, taking bits and pieces from the Metronomy school of dance and combing it all together with cheeky lyrics that play like some kind of Caribbean disco dream.
The best thing about From Here To Anywhere is its ability to knock you in the face from the get-go with huge, euphoric build-up’s across all of the songs that lead to death-defying climaxes. It’s everything we loved about “2″ – and then some. Angus and Miss Connie have knocked this one so far out of the park it’s hard to imagine any Australian artist toppling them over the next 12 months. Whether this sells or not, Sneaky Sound System are, and always have been, at the very top of their game, and “From Here To Anywhere” is their second (of three) truly perfect and completely flawless long players. So many artists can’t even achieve that in 10 years – yet they’ve done it in 5.
The only way is up. Sneaky Sound System are here to save our lives with the highest quality pop this country has ever served.
FROM HERE TO ANYWHERE is released THIS FRIDAY October 7th in Australia, with a subsequent release worldwide from October 17.
(CAPITOL) ★ ★ ★ ★
Katy Perry‘s enlisted the help of Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Tricky Stewart, Stargate, Benny Bianco and a blue wig to make an incredibly convincing second album.
The shock-tactics that surrounded the releases from her first album, “One Of The Boys”, served as somewhat of a distraction from how bad most of that record was, but all of that negative energy and shit music has been thrown out for “Teenage Dream”, which doesn’t feel (as) contrived, or forced for that matter. In fact, generally speaking, this is a pretty great pop record full of potential singles. As Mike from PopTrashAddicts said in his excellent review of the record, it really feels as though the likes of Luke, Martin and Stargate actually saved all of their best for Perry. Mainly killer, couple of filler… There’s definitely a lot more on here to be able to substantially say Katy’s actually proven me very wrong. I haven’t been entirely convinced of Perry’s submissions to the world of pop – up until now anyway. “Teenage Dream” makes up for the over-exposure, the blasphemy-as-entertainment comment, and the condescension of (the albeit catchy) “I Kissed A Girl.”
Opening with current smash, the title-track and second single to be lifted off the record “Teenage Dream”, was a good move. Already this is one of the better pop songs of 2010, with an incredibly sweet sentiment that I think was really missing from Perry’s first album, but is exactly the right way to start off the new one. It’s actually the song that sort of humanised her more for me. When I really listened to the thoughtful lyrics, and paid attention to how truly sincere she sounds as she’s singing it, it just made her a little more relatable; she was more of a human being and less of a jealous slut. And this is the song that really convinced me of the former. This is a cute but also honest and open love song that really gives the record a 10/10 beginning. Interestingly, first single “California Gurls” (featuring Snoop Dogg) follows an almost identical bassline to “Teenage Dream”, but much like GaGa did with “Poker Face” and then “Bad Romance”, Perry took something self-made that was already pretty good and made it even bloody better.
You’d be forgiven if you thought “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” sounded like Ke$ha. It’s from the same song-writing and production hit factory as Ke$ha but – thankfully – is only one of two skank-inspired moments on here. It’s still thoroughly enjoyable and that saxophone ending has rubbed me up in only the way images of Rob Lowe, shirtless, playing the Sax in (insert the title of any of his 80′s movie here) can. i.e; Hot.
“Firework” is tipped to be the next single, the first of two surprisingly poppy Stargate productions. There’s a violin section (tick), a ripper of a chorus (tick), and you can bloody dance to it. Tick! One of the biggest, brightest moments on “Teenage Dream”. Tongue (and eventually cock) firmly in cheek for the arrival of “Peacock”, in which Perry demands the revelation of a particular boys “peacock”, or – for those a little slow on the upkeep – the revelation of a particular boys enormous cock. “Magical, colourful, Mr Mystery… Come on baby let me see, what you hidin’ underneath.” Amazing, and will serve as my future mating call.
Tricky Stewart, who produced the classic Madonna/Britney Spears Australian Number #1 single “Me Against The Music”, pops in for “Circle The Drain”, an Alanis Morissette-infused jam that stands as one of my favourites on the record. The final one minute and fifty seconds of the track are some of the most exciting series of seconds on the album. Excellently, it’s about a lover who’s too off-his-face on drugs to make it past the unwrapping of the condom whenever it comes to fornication. A true pearler that seems to only get better with every obsessively repeated listen.
But perhaps “The One That Got Away” is my absolute favourite here. Really sincere and sweet, the best lyrics on here by a long-shot, a little bit heartbreaking and one of the best Max Martin/Dr. Luke songs to date. “It’s time to face the music; I’m no longer your muse. But in another life, I would be your girl. We keep all our promises, be us against the world. In another life, I would make you stay. So I don’t have to say you were the one that got away.”
I liked “E.T.” when it leaked in demo form earlier this year, but the new-and-improved album version takes the song to even dizzier, exciting heights. The song, already paying homage to t.A.T.u in demo form, ups the Russian-ante to +10; bigger beats, stronger synths, re-recorded vocals. The Alien as metaphor for a lover is brilliant; “Infect me with your lovin’, fill me with your poison. Take me, wanna be your victim, ready for abduction. Boy, you’re an Alien!” Then there’s “Hummingbird Heartbeat”, which kinda sounds like a “One Of The Boys” offcut. Particularly sweet, it sits here nicely as the kind of song Katy’s popped on to ensure she doesn’t entirely alienate her original fanbase who might be bigger fans of her holding a guitar in her hand rather than a Popsicle.
The pace slows down for tracks like “Who Am I Living For” and “Pearl”, which – as lovely as they are – feel a little odd just tacked onto the end. Regardless, they’re both quite endearing, in particular “Pearl” which has one of those depressingly-uplifting choruses I’ve been known to be a wrist-slitting fan of. I like the depressing choruses! I guess that makes me a Masochistic Music Enthusiast. Oh the irony.
The pace also completely dies down for the album closer “Not Like The Movies.” Perry’s voice strains in places but my god; those lyrics. This could have been a really big single for someone with a voice more suited to big ballads. It even has a sense of Regina Spektor in there in places – what started off as my least favourite has turned into a song I’ll no longer skip.
I know a lot of people’s gripe with Perry is that they think she’s “too contrived” or whatnot, or that she “can’t really sing.” A lot of the pop acts I listen to are heavily contrived though! And a lot of those singers who tally up highly in my last.fm chart – hell – most of them have voices as thin as rice-paper. I think that, because we got off to such a shaky start with her when she released that first record, people feel a little more obliged to really make a witch-hunt out of knocking her down. And while I wasn’t convinced she was doing the whole pop schtick for all the right reasons, I definitely am now.
(UMA) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I’m not sure if there actually will be an album this year that’s as truly glorious as this, the third (but second at heart) full-length offering from the Scissor Sisters, but good luck to anyone who wants to take a stab at it.
In a year that will see no new releases from Madonna, Lady GaGa or Girls Aloud, the floor for album of the year is open to almost anybody. Or at least, it was. We’re in the midst of a golden pop age and, particularly for me, to not have either of those three actively releasing new material in the year, AND for the year to be as blisteringly amazing as it already has been – Pop Music has a lot of good going for it at the moment.
But nothing more-so delicious and grand than “Night Work”, which manages the near impossible of being positively flawless from beginning to end. Stuart Price, who worked on the new Kylie album, plays producer on every track here and on a bulk of co-writes too. I think Jake and Co gave Price a lot more freedom than most other artists have in the past and it really shows on the final product. This not only takes the Scissters into a whole new level of brilliance but also propels Stuart Price onto an even higher pedestal than I’d placed him on years earlier. Surely another near impossible feat.
Although mind-blowingly great, Kylie’s “Aphrodite” may not be as brilliant as “Confessions” was, but “Night Work”… fuck, it actually is better than Confessions, isn’t it? Even if just a little bit, right? I mean, don’t tell Madonna, but admit it, Confessions had a bit of filler. Night Work’s only association with that particular ‘f’ word involves the kind you inject into your cheeks for beauty and nightclubbing, not a song you could either take-or-leave. There’s none of that here.
The title track “Night Work” opens like a twisted ray of sunshine and smells of walkmans, rollerblades and all things Xanadu, with lyrics I was loving stupid over the last couple of weeks driving to a 9 to 5 temping job I’ve been doing. “Punch that clock and break all the numbers! Weekday nine-to-five shift is over!” Amen. It’s the perfect way to start one of the finest party records of our time.
Interestingly, there are some surprise references to both George Michael and Robbie Williams in the first quarter of the disc. “Whole New Way” borrows licks and thumping funk-beats from Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” (both Parts 1 AND 2), whilst the thundering ballad “Fire With Fire” sees Shears connect with his inner Robbie, at least vocally. XO nailed it in his review when talking about this track, in the sense that it’s one fans will eventually come around to. It’s the Scissters doing their own “Viva La Vida” of sorts; it’s so mighty and majestic and definitely makes even more sense in context of the record.
The instant disco-funk of “Any Which Way” reaches a true pop pinnacle when Ana Matronic launches into the single greatest talky-bit in music for 2010. If you haven’t heard it yet, by the time you’re done you too will be asking the Scissters to take you in front of your parents. Any which way you can!
“Harder You Get” takes things to a glam-rock-adoring sweaty sex club, before we reach the glorious insanity of “Running Out”, which is one of many potential singles here. Ana glows through Running Out, her part really takes the song to new heights and makes me hanker for some kind of solo effort from her down the track. She’s definitely got what it takes and has more than ever made up for her anti-Rachel Stevens movement a few years ago.
Did you spot the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Kylie sample in obvious single “Something Like This”? I definitely think it’s a testament to how much of a brilliant song “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” is; it already deserves to be immortalised and sampled. In doing so, the Scissters have created what is probably the most infectious song in their catalogue. Release this immediately, this must be single number 2!
Matronic shines again on sexy solo “Skin This Cat”, whilst tender disco-ballad “Skin Tight” shimmies and shines like a bright burning star in the sky, reminiscent of the gloriously fucked feeling you have walking home, trashed beyond belief after being out, and maybe being with the one person you want to be with most in the world. It’s incredible stuff.
And then there’s “Sex & Violence.”
This is easily the best song on here. It’s the Scissters scissoring the Pet Shop Boys. It also houses my favourite lyric of the year, “You were walking home that night, too kind to be elusive. Where you live? What you give? Who you with? And how you getting home? Does anybody know right now, exactly where you are? A step inside’s a step too far.” Amazing, one of the most psychologically damaging and yet simultaneously beautiful series of lyrics I’ve heard in years.
The Chic-beats of “Night Life” work as a fitting sequel to the records self-titled opener, before leading into the truly special “Invisible Light,” the biggest shimmer of dance music on here. You want to know the correct use of the now very-overused word “Epic”? Listen to this. If your mind is not blown by Ian McKellen’s surprise verse, it certainly will be by the time the Lion King party drums of the songs grand finale ring through for the greatest closing minutes in a song this year and, hey, fuck it – why not – maybe ever.
My best friend Ben said he feels like a cigarette after every song on this album, that sensation of sexual satisfaction just as the next song ends and another one starts, having that burning desire to just spark up a fucking cigarette coz it’s just. that. good. I think it’s the perfect analogy for an album like “Night Work”, and one that would make Jake and the gang incredibly proud.
It’s also the first album I have not changed the track listing of on my iPod. From start to finish, as it is, in all its sonic perfection. I can’t even remember the last album track listing I hadn’t altered.
I’m fairly confident in the view that this isn’t just a great album. It’s one of the most exciting pop records I’ve heard. Ana gets taken in front of her parents, Jake’s playing fisticuffs and it’s just a whole lot of really passionate fun, isn’t it? 2009 was the year of sadness and sorrow, I’m bored of all that and want to have fun.
And nothing does fun quite as effortlessly as “Night Work.”
Album of the year, hands down.
(PARLOPHONE) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
WHEN Kylie released her last studio album, 2007’s “X”, it wasn’t exactly the homecoming people were expecting. X had some great singles and a few proper stormers but its lack of creative cohesion left the final tracklisting looking incredibly lazy, leaving Ms Minogue with an album of songs that just didn’t quite sound like something she had even convinced herself to sing, let alone convinced us to listen to. It wasn’t terrible, but it was a bit of a mess.
“Aphrodite” sees Minogue lifting her game and pumping out what will probably end up being one of her Top 2 best records to date. It sounds like a Kylie album from start to finish, one that has fast-grown into one of the most accomplished and exciting long players she’s put out, and the only completely dud-free record in her discography.
Working with Stuart Price (Madonna’s “Confessions On A Dance Floor”) was a move that the Scissor Sisters Jake Shears insisted Kylie embark on. The results are – in most places – breathtaking, but the ones that aren’t are, still, at the very least incredibly enjoyable. For the record, it’s not as good as “Confessions” was, but fuck me – it’s bloody close.
From the euro-blizzard opening of first single “All The Lovers” (whose Spanish version, “Los Amores”, could have probably won Eurovision this year had Minogue entered it), to next single, the jealousy-driven tour-de-force and made-for-radio “Get Outta My Way”, Aphrodite packs dance floor punches with big impact. Particular album highlight “Cupid Boy” probably packs the records biggest club-friendly bassline, with a driving guitar-fuelled riff that sits magically with the pounding beats enveloping it. It’s also, alongside “All The Lovers”, the most incredible moment on here lyrically.
Perhaps a personal best however arrives in the form of the records title track, a big and bold moment where Kylie announces she’s “fierce and feeling mighty, I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite, Alright!” This should be the third single; it’s exactly the kind of comeback single people were, maybe, hoping “2 Hearts” was going to be.
Songs like “Illusion” and “Better Than Today” (not ballads, but they’re not exactly going to incite the rebirth of Studio 54 either) have copped a bit of flack in various reviews I’ve read over the last couple of weeks but – of course – they’re two of my absolute favourites. “Illusion” – written solely by Kylie and Price – comes with an excellent Middle 8 and could very well be a great choice for a mid-tempo single to break down the thumping themes of the records other moments. It’s definitely the sweetest sounding moment on Aphrodite. “Better Than Today” probably houses the records best Middle 8, though. Amazing talky-bit alert!! “Everything Is Beautiful”, co-written by Keane’s Tim Rice-Oxley, follows suit in the mid-tempo ballad stakes, and wonderfully so. A very precious Kylie moment.
The pace is generally quite upbeat though, and Aprhodite bangs pretty hard throughout. Stuff like “Closer” (which is like Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” having a child to Kylie’s “Confide In Me” at The Monster Ball), “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” and “Can’t Beat The Feeling” all play an important part in making Aphrodite a true celebration (ho ho!) from start to finish.
Both “Too Much” and “Looking For An Angel” are lovely enough, but they’re the only two tracks that made me feel as though Kylie’s voice had been lost in production. That’s not to say these aren’t good songs, but Xenomania-written b-sides “Heartstrings” and “Mighty Rivers” would have been better inclusions on the record – two tracks which are fast becoming my favourite Kylie moments from the Aphrodite-era.
This sounds like a classic Kylie album; there are moments on here which will forever be immortalised into the pop-world psyche, and I honestly think her choice to make a fun, glossy and danceable pop record is more than welcome in a time where gloom and doom seems to be a top priority; there’s no hidden agenda here, no hidden political punches, it’s just a fantastic Kylie album that’s going to make you smile, sing and – hopefully – dance. It’s a return to the really refined moments of “Fever”, which now may have to settle for being her second greatest achievement.
I think the problem people are having with Aphrodite is that it might come across as being a little devoid of Kylie’s personality. But where ‘X’ failed in feeling like it was really hers, ‘Aphrodite’ at least sounds like music she actually really wants to be making. I think peoples expectations of Kylie, particularly in this country, are of such a high standard that it’s hard for her to match them at times. Want want want, people want this or that from Kylie, pulling her one way or the other; it’s any wonder she’s hinting at retirement – surely there comes a point when even Kylie Minogue throws her hands up and says “Fuck this and fuck you all, I’m retiring to a cottage, smoking pot and baking cakes for the rest of my life.” I don’t want that, and I can tell that you don’t either.
More importantly, I don’t think Kylie wants that either.
Go and buy Aphrodite for Gods sake.
MATT VAN SCHIE
(BANDROOM) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
There is something admittedly really exciting about Matt Van Schie being a proper pop star.
Van She themselves, although definitely housing some brilliant pop hooks, generally seem to fall more into the Rock/Dance bracket – particularly with their fan-base. The band themselves are working on their new album as you read this; but there’s been a big chunky break in between that was perfect for solo ventures and side projects to come up to the proverbial podium. The bands resident synth-god Michael Di Francesco added his production touches to the ace new Cassette Kids album, and Matt, well Matt’s gone and done what I’d always hoped he would – a truly outstanding pop record.
“Balmy Nights” is perfect from beginning to end. Complete with four tracks, the EP serves as an incredible introduction into Matt’s musical mind and where he wants to take this particular project.
Lead single and EP opener “Saturday Night” gets things off to a rollicking start; that bass guitar sounding prominent over the 80′s referencing synths and a chorus of killer proportions. Next single “Journey”, featuring Matt’s Van She band-mate Di Francesco, is a Depeche Mode/Duran Duran loving synth-happy pop ballad with sharp production and a truly dreamy bridge. By the time the ace “Lady” and “Two Love” have started, you’ll have figured out this EP is, essentially, a collection of really fun and supremely executed pop songs. And they generally all seem to be about the romantic side of life.
In its demo form, “Two Love” charted in my Top 10 of the year for 2009, and rightly so. There’s something very Motels-esque about this – in melody and production, it’s actually almost like a dancier version of this absolute classic. These are the kind of songs you hear that instantly just hit the spot. Out of the four tracks on here, “Two Love” is not only the best on “Balmy Nights”, it’s also the most accomplished and fresh-sounding.
“Balmy Nights” is a pop record. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make pop music. It’s the kind of thing that should be encouraged. If Matt had turned around and made an EP full of rock-cum-indie-cum-dance anthems, provided they were good I would still have been on board, but perhaps not as excited as I have been about this batch of tunes.
Van She give us excellent material that falls into that aforementioned sub-genre; so I want something different from a solo project. And Matt’s definitely stepped up. Most people would kill for a debut pop release to sound this swish, slick and to just work as well as it does.
Buy this because I want a full-length album. I have a feeling Matt’s going to blow our minds with whatever he does next.
NOTHING ON TV
(SONYBMG) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In 2008 Sydney’s Cassette Kids took home the prize of the Triple J Unearthed competition and followed it with the release of their debut EP, “We Are.” 48 months later, and the Cassette Kids are finally launching their debut Long Player, “Nothing On TV.”
For those dismissing the band as another Ladyhawke or Modular act aren’t, however, looking hard enough. Aside from the fact they aren’t even on Modular, there’s a lot more to the Cassette Kids than a few ball-tearing pop tunes and some dance beats. “Nothing On TV” proves this in around 50 minutes playing-time.
In fact, anyone expecting an all-out pop album (or dance album, even, which it seems Rave Magazine thought it was… which does make you think if they even bothered to listen to the record, or whether they just jotted down what they thought was wrong with Australia’s dance music scene and then fobbed it off as a review – WHO KNOWS) is going to be left surprised. There is definitely an air of incredible pop sensibilities at play here, but there are some exciting and creative rock-monster moments on here (“You Shot Me” comes in like an exciting bat out of hell upon your stereo) that still separate the Kids from the rest of the dance-pop-indie hybrid. Very smart.
Production credits for “Nothing On TV” sit with Van She’s synth-master Michael Di Francesco (who’s almost turning out to be Australia’s answer to Stuart Price); there are 80′s licking guitars and 90′s references here and there; from the almost No Doubt feel to some of the music (“Freaky Sweetie”, “Wherever You Are”), to the thundering techno beats of album (and career) highlight, the title-track “Nothing On TV” which – in its final minute – turns into one of the most exciting and innovative moments in Australian pop for a long time.
“Game Player” is TV’s other crowning moment who, along with the records singles “Spin” (still one of the years best singles) and “Lying Around”, come complete with choruses so infectious you’ll be on anti-biotics not long after hearing them.
The best thing about “Nothing On TV” is that, although it definitely cross-references other artists and genres of music the Cassette Kids themselves have sought inspiration from, it still sounds like a record put out by the Cassette Kids. It still has that grimy energy from their original debut, it’s just a little more polished this time around.
I await with much excitement to see what they’re going to do next.
NOTHING ON TV is released through Sony/BMG Australia tomorrow. Clicky to pre-order a physical copy from JB HiFi, or jump on iTunes tomorrow to purchase a digital copy.