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The Datsuns – Outta Sight / Outta Mind

The Datsuns’ Outta Sight / Outta Mind is suffering from a serious case of “a bit rubbish.”

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Bloody hell, haven’t those Datsun boys got girlfriends yet? Their first eponymous album was full of hormone-drenched laments about how girls don’t like them (tip: wash your hair) and how cool it is to just sit round doing nothing in particular. I wonder how much of the latter the New Zealand quartet did in the making of Outta Sight / Outta Mind, because a lot of it is suffering from a serious case of “a bit rubbish.” The Datsuns of 2002 were a byword for sexiness, all snake hips, guitar licks and attitude. The Datsuns of 2004 resemble your Dad doing a stupid drunken air-guitar dance to old Rolling Stones songs, probably at a wedding. The fact of the matter is that Dolf and his hairy crew obviously spent more time promoting the point that John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame produced it than writing the actual songs; instead, opting for lackluster re-hashings of the first album.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; the production is pretty tight, and it’s good to see Dolf retain his testosterone-splashed lusty roaring, one perfectly fitting the music and tone. Oddly titled first single “Blacken My Thumb” raids the Iron Maiden crypts and leaves nothing but that giant skeleton-thing, all vocal harmonising and solos. “Girl’s Best Friend” begins with what sounds like the tiniest bit like (gulp) Dire Straits before dissolving into the soundtrack to the funkiest bar fight in town! “Don’t Come Knocking” is also pretty incendiary, like the stream-of-conscious babblings of a hyperactive child pie-eyed on Sunny Delight and food colorings. But the rest of the album is so cripplingly anodyne it’s almost depressing. “Hong Kong Fury,” apart from being a title that even AC/DC would turn down, is awful; it even sounds like the band are ashamed to be playing on it. It’s a lame reworking of the first albums’ “Lady,” with added complacency. “Cherry Lane” includes some cringe-inducing “I love girls, me!” lyrics seemingly written by a chimp running repeatedly into a typewriter; “A boy is a boy / But a Girl is a charm”? The Datsuns don’t really do subtle, but they could at least have tried in this case. The rest of the music is cast adrift in an ocean of widdly-wah fretwanking, and I wouldn’t send anyone to look for them. It’s quite funny how some of the song titles speak for themselves- “That Sure Ain’t Right,” “What I’ve Lost” and “You Can’t Find Me.” Are you talking about your tunes, Dolf?

The world’s changed a lot since their last album. Bands have risen and fallen, some splitting up, and some unfortunately refusing to. It just seems a shame that the Datsuns are no longer relevant today. There are better bands out there that sound a lot like this (Death From Above for example). It seems like the Datsuns have been beaten at their own game. The first album was good, you can certainly write some great songs if you try, but just work that little bit harder to make album number three great.

(V2 Records)

Reviews

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

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Hatchie Keepsake

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.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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