Archive for the ‘Pop Singles’ Category

Review: Pop Singles– All Gone

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Pop Singles
All Gone
Vacant Valley

There are two kinds of people who’ll listen to this record; people who will say it sounds like the Go-Betweens at some point because they’ve heard the Go-Betweens, and people who won’t because they haven’t. That said, referring to That Striped Sunlight Sound is going to rise more out of convenience than accuracy. Though Pop Singles share a lovelorn sensibility and a dynamite rhythm section with Forster/McLennan et al., All Gone hangs a lot more trauma out to dry than that pair ever attempted to.

All Gone rearranges to Go Alone (funny that– not rly), and these are the lines between which Tam Matlakowski writes, detailing aching in dramatic, desperate but seldom wasted words. He’s is elegantly distressed for the most part, imbuing lines like “you know it’s strange/but I just want to die” with a resigned grace. Don’t mistake his drowning for waving, though; there’s a lot going on between the lines. The record is riven through with the difficulty and claustrophobia of the same thing constantly failing, all frustration, impossibiliy and holding yr brains in yr hands– “it’s getting harder to relate to anyone but you” indeed.

With their thinner set-up (g/b/d/v), they are closer in sound to early Wedding Present played at 33 instead of 45, or The Lucksmiths on a rainy weekend– thankfully, though, without that bookish in/sincerity. Like Woollen Kits, Pop Singles have a knack for crafting instrumental hooks so clean and bright that you swear you’ve heard them before just about as much as you don’t give a solid fuck if you have. The magnificent “Hold You Tight” explodes (relatively) out of the gates with a hook that would be positively anthemic if it wasn’t so ambivalent –which it is richer for being– while the queasy, melancholic chord twists underpinning “Now And Again” double and redouble the import of the lyrics (“there’s a world so bright/and full of things/that I’ll never do”).  “Field In Flames” masks emotional squalor (“you can’t make me leave/you just can’t”) with a glorious melody that is far more patient and empathetic than it has any right to be. Pop Singles are at their most striking on “The Curtain Falls”- the most dramatic of the bunch– sorta ramming “Muzoweri’s Daughter” into an acute psychodrama that sweeps effortlessly from a repose to a pulse-jarring stalk, elevating the mundane opacity of the aching elsewhere into a macabre shadowplay that’s as distinct as it is affecting.

However, it gets darker and louder therein on side B, and tapers off slightly for it, though it does lend the record a sense of a narrative arc, moving from a vague, submerged optimism into frustration. Pop Singles best when exploiting the gaps between buoyancy and despair– the song that’ll save your life that’s all about the end of someone else’s– so the tunes that lend themselves more to minor-key despondency don’t ring with the same force. All Gone would be a triumph for its cover alone– it is a tremendously evocative image in the tradition of Australian 80s record sleeves, all sparseness, xerox and suburbia– but it also is one of the best pop albums to come out of Australia this year.