Melbourne’s The Bennies are an eclectic collective of musicians who seem to have cut their teeth on everything from party rock anthems, metal and ska to reggae and pop. The group’s debut album, Rainbows In Space, is a rather apt description for this 14-track LSD trip down the road of every15-year-old kid’s schizophrenic music collection.
You get party-themed rock (the opening “Party Smashers”), ska-tinged anthemic punk (the pretty great “Anywhere You Want To Go”), stoner reggae rock (“Let’s Get Stoned”) and rock steady (“Hold On”, which is another good entry). It’s an easy indication that Rainbows in Space is really a smorgasbord of genres that are glued together by the band’s frenetic energy. Much of the album sounds like it was written under a heavy haze of drugs and alcohol, and while some of the songs are a bizarre mixture of tripping something fantastic with an ultra laid back attitude, some songs seem to be lacking in solid direction.
The album’s biggest problem is that the band have an affinity for so many different genres of music that they’re having a hard time picking one (or even two) to give the album a singular aesthetic. The band completely lose their marbles in “Frankston Girls”, a candidate for one of least productive songs you’ll hear all year. It’s part metal, part ska, part rock, all kinds of terrible. It’s real shame because they follow it up with the more traditional third-wave ska sounding “Westgate Wednesday” which is a terrific tune, akin to what Against All Authority, Voodoo Glow Skulls and Assorted Jellybeans did during their time.
It’s early days for The Bennies as they’ve got a lot of positive elements going for them. They know how to party, but lack direction when it comes to writing a solid album from start to finish. Some of their terrific songs are weighed down heavily by their awful ones. An album full of “Westgate Wednesdays” and “Anywhere You Want To Gos” would have made Rainbows In Space worthy of repeated listens. Unfortunately, for now, your best bet is to pick and choose a few tracks until they’re able to do the good more often than the bad.
(Poison City Records)
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.