|1. Shanty For The Arethusa|
|2. Billy Liar|
|3. Los Angeles, I'm Yours|
|4. The Gymnast, High Above The Ground|
|5. The Bachelor And The Bride|
|6. Song For Myla Goldberg|
|7. The Soldiering Life|
|8. Red Right Ankle|
|9. The Chimbley Sweep|
|10. I Was Meant For The Stage|
|11. As I Rise|
It opens with its most ambitious track, "Shanty for the Arethusa," (3/5) which is quite a whale of a song. It's a little lengthy and drags on, leaving the listener to wonder if the rest of the album will sound like this. It's not at all a bad song, but it's, dare I say, too much. It gets to be overwhelming. It's chorus gets you thinking it's about to pick up into something new but this song just, sort of, goes on... over my head. Definitely an interesting track and not one to skip, but it's just a little too ambitious and overwhelming. Next you hear the shout of "Billy Liar" (4/5) having his hands in his pockets staring over at the neighbors' knickers down. This is a much peppier song than the previous and changes the direction of the album for the better, it's not their best song, but "Billy Liar" is much friendlier to the listener and is much more enjoyable.
"Los Angeles, I'm Yours" (5/5)is one of the better songs on the album. Composed with the guitar, backed up by the Decemberists' string quartet and including a harmonica solo, this brilliantly written song that takes shots at my home town is one that will leave you asking for more.
"The Gymnast, High Above the Ground" (4/5) is another more ambitious song. Unlike "Shanty," "The Gymnast" builds up rather than go backwards. This is one of the more beautiful songs with a little bit more piano. The simple repetition of this song is infectious and it was very well done and thought out, but still not their best.
I noticed that he has been critised a number of times in these reviews for his vocal style. Some claiming that it is too close to Neutral Milk Hotel, and some even claiming he is attempting to put on an English accent.
The reason for his apparently unusual style is, he's Australian!
(As am I!)
Hopefully if people read this, it will help dispell some of negative opinions and remarks that have seemingly tainted the music this band makes. Although they record and tour in the US, they are actually an Australian band, hence the slightly unorthodox (to the American ear) voice!
There is little to say that hasn't already been said..
This album is full of haunting melodies, grand 3/4 jaunts, clear and nostalgic imagery, subtle yet complex instrumentation, and clever lyrics.
If you enjoy any of the bands mentioned in previous reviews you will more than likely enjoy this release. Although straight out folkish pop songs on the outside, these tracks reward repeat listens, allowing the dense arrangements to fully take hold.
Back on the Australian note, if you like this, you most certainly enjoy one of australia's finest bands, Augie March. I cannot speak highly enough...
anyway, this album is more than worthwhile, 4 stars