There’s this weird thing which happens with what we might call “colonial bands,” specifically bands from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, places like that. If these bands produce decent music, British and American critics sometimes lose their shit, as if they cannot imagine such small, quaint countries producing decent music. I understand why we Canadians lose our minds over mediocre Canadian music, even if I don’t agree, but I don’t really understand why critics from other countries sometimes do. And I’ve had this same experience with many of the Aussie and Kiwi bands I’ve encountered, such as the Triffids.
McComb is a decent songwriter. There’s one song on here – “Stolen Property” – which is outright excellent. And it’s possible that with many listens I’d find many more and I’d come to really respect him. (And listen to more of his records.) But that isn’t going to happen.
It’s not going to happen because I don’t dig their aesthetic, this vaguely rootsy but still incredibly ’80s jangle pop thing they got going on. Did UK critics lose their minds about this sound for the same reason they were losing their minds (at the same time) about the Smiths? (I.e. “so few British bands use guitars any more, sigh…”) Is it because they assumed every Australian band sounded like AC/DC or the Bad Seeds and these guys don’t? I really don’t know. But these guys are not particularly musically interesting. I mean, they’re fine. But it’s just jangle pop, coloured by unfortunately ’80s production (the drums in particular). (Also, McComb sounds like every British post punk singer.)
This is a perfectly fine record: it’s a good set of songs and, if it was produced better, I might enjoy the interesting additional instruments they have on it. (But they’re mixed so low!) But I really don’t get the hype.
Honestly, you fix the production and maybe I start to get it.