Hang on - that's not the original sleeve. Where did that wolf come from? (it's a Dingo) Anyway wolf or no wolf (Dingo?) this is a great album. Even As We Speak were the brightest and shiniest Sarah records band. As if the Go Betweens thought ah fuck it let's become Saint Etienne and made an album of technicolour pop. Essential re-issue on Emotional Response.
- Last copy!
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Ooh this is one of my very favourites. Even As We Speak made a couple of brilliant singles for Sarah in the early '90s and in particular 'Nothing Ever Happens' was exceptionally atmospheric Go Betweens-ish pop. But by the time of they debut full length the band had become a six headed sparkle-pop beast and 'Feral Pop Frenzy' is an astonishing rollercoaster ride through some remarkably uplifting guitar led music.
'Beautiful Day' sets the scene for the journey where they mix that pastoral Australian sound with St Etienne style charm and remarkable middle eights that seemingly have nothing to do with the song at hand. The watery guitars of 'Falling Down the Stairs' should be heard by anyone with a love for Antipodean pop groups but the bands had a more varied sound template than many of their compatriots. They play lovely banjo-led front porch ballads 'Anybody Anyway', impossibly twee pop ('Love Is The Answer') and weird sound collages ('Squid') in fact it at times feels that the band are trying too hard to inject darkness and weirdness into their sunny side up music. But you forgive them as the actual songs are so great. Ian Catt's synth sparkle production sometimes suffocates ('Sailors Graves' was always better in its Peel Session version') and the band are best when left to their guitar pop devices.
The B side contains a run of brilliant songs; 'Swimming Song' is pure musical prozac, earlier single 'One Step Forward' is one of the great Australian songs of this or any other era - it's their 'Cattle & Cane' - a melodious treat full of a song full hope, lyricism and mystery with lines like "Dead insects on the windowsill, a glass of wine a box of shells, the wind was a mute roar, while her engine rattled like scrap metal" challenging Grant McLennan's lyrical dexterity. And 'Drown' is their stab at a hit - a discofied glitter ball delight with a chorus so infectious it should have invaded at least the lower reaches of the charts. Throughout Mary Wyer's voice is all Karen Carpenter - a supremely smooth flag hanging joyously above the music.
The one thing I miss on Feral Pop Frenzy is guitarist Matt Love's tentative voice which having guided those early singles is all but absent. Wyer is a hell of a singer but I'd like a bit more contrast between the two. It maybe is nitpicking but it's this and their tendency to burrow down closed off avenues that just...just holds Feral Pop Frenzy back from being one of the great indie pop records of all time. Still it lives up to it's title - a dizzying, infectious record that is well worth another listen.
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- Feral Pop Frenzy by Even As We Speak
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