Review Summary: ‘A Song Is A City’ is break up album – a cup half empty with self hatred, loathing and contempt for the ones we used to love and a cup half full with pop friendliness and sees Eskimo Joe, hit their creative and musical stride.
After winning the Australian National Campus Band Competition Eskimo Joe arrived on the Australian music scene with their 2000 LP debut ‘Girl’. While ‘Girl’ saw the band somewhat mature from there previous sound, their first single ‘Sweater’ told the story of an ugly second hand jumper given to Kav by his grandfather, it was only a sign of the eventual growth that the band would go through.
Eskimo Joe are:
Kav Temperley – Bass/Lead Vocals
Stu MacLeod – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Joel Quatermain – Drums/Backing Vocals
This is ‘A Song Is A City’
‘A Song Is A City’ is break up album – a cup half empty with self hatred, loathing and contempt for the ones we used to love and a cup half full with pop friendliness. ‘A Song is a City’ sees Western Australia’s alternative rock kings, Eskimo Joe, hit their creative and musical stride. The album’s sound stretches between two vastly different yet complementing scopes: pop rock hits filled with melodic, catchy riffs and fantastic vocals and many indie/alternative piano and synth driven gems. It is the contrast in styles that not only give ‘A Song is a City’ its radio friendly sound but its credible backbone.
‘Come Down’ begins ‘A Song is a City’ in an upbeat fashion, beginning with a single acoustic guitar and Kav Temperley’s mellow vocals before opening up in the chorus where Temperley sends out the most perfect falsetto. Slow melodic drums really provide the songs backbone here but it isn’t until the bridge that it is really allowed to breaks out of the shackles. The production and drumming during this section are outstanding and the piano, that lays the foundation, gives an indication of what is to come.
Songs such as “From The Sea”, “Older Then You”, “Seven Veils” and “This Room” provide “A Song Is A City” with its radio friendly sound. The albums first single, ‘From the Sea’ is held together by a Kav’s fantastic bass line and the keys which are a major feature of this album. Once again Temperley’s vocals shine and the indie pop rock precedent is set from which much of the album is based. “Older Then You” provides an upbeat look at relationships and growing up whilst “Seven Veils” pays homage to their first album Girl, through its guitar driven riff and straight forward lyrics about confronting a jealous girlfriend.
The album also encompasses many songs with a much more mature alternative sound which I believe provide the backbone and credibility to the album as a whole. Whilst songs such as ‘From the Sea’ give the album a pleasant and friendly sound it the haunting sound, superb vocals and honest lyrics of the albums less recognizable tracks that separates this album from Eskimo Joe’s previous effort.
‘A Song is a City’ is 3 minutes and 29 seconds of pure self loathing and angst. You can hear in the vocal and the guitars that Temperley is pissed off and wants the world to know. The lyrics blatant honesty, the basting guitar and driving drums give ‘A Song is a City’, the song, a sound not found on any other track on the album. ‘Now I hang myself each night… With this noose that I build’ gives an obvious indication of the songs premise. ‘Im So Tired’ sees the album hit its high point as Temperley’s haunting vocal is accompanied by a guitar barely there and dynamic piano. It is songs like this that show Eskimo Joe’s grow between first and second albums. The production quality is sublime and is what makes the song a classic as it draws you in with every second, seemingly composed around The Beatles – I Want You (She’s so Heavy).
The album provides Temperley with numerous opportunities to showcase his vocal ability. Songs such as “Smoke” and “Life Is Better With You” give Temperley the chance to showcase his amazing vocal range, seeing him hits his straps when producing an amazing falsetto tone. Songs such as “I’m So Tired”, “Car Crash” and “From The Sea” are free of falsetto but still wonderfully sung. His falsetto is second to none in the Australian music industry and provides great depth to many of the albums highlights.
The band does a more then adequate job holding it all together with Joel Quatermain laying a fantastic foundation on drums, while Stu MacLeod’s lead guitar develops many of the albums hooks.
All up this album is an obvious highlight of the Oz music scene in 2004. Thanks to the mainstream, radio friendly hooks, Temperley’s fantastic vocals and the bands professional new sound, this album really laid the foundation for Eskimo Joe to explode onto the mainstream landscape in 2006.