Powderfinger
Golden Rule


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jim USER (23 Reviews)
November 12th, 2009 | 81 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A return to form, or a return to norm? Neither - Golden Rule is a new beginning.

It's taken twenty years, but Australia's Powderfinger have finally resigned to the fact that they were only ever destined for local success. 2007's Dream Days at the Hotel Existence - the band's first American production - had the group out of favour with the critics for the first time since their pre-Double Allergic days and had fans surmising that the group's reign on top of the Australian rock pile was well and truly over. According to many, the fat lady had sung, and while Golden Rule doesn't overtly argue to the contrary, it does confirm that the group will always be capable of creating melancholic gold that drips with atmosphere, even after 7 albums.

Almost from the outset of their careers, Powderfinger had created smart rock albums that managed to please the mainstream market and the Triple J hipsters alike - a not so easy achievement. But with Dream Days, the maturity of their songwriting had given way to something less cerebral and ultimately generic, at least in the realm of mainstream rock. For the first time in the group's history, they were in danger of becoming nothing more than a Grey's Anatomy band, something which was almost realised when the unassuming ballad Drifting Further Away was played on the American soap.

Powderfinger have taken heed of the warnings and returned to Australia to record with producer Nick DiDia once again, in an obvious implication that they won't be turning their backs on the Australian music scene any time soon - if ever again. The band even booked a show at the country's biggest redneck festival in the Deniliquin Ute Muster (and I'll forgive you for thinking I was referring to that annual riot of all things bogan The Big Day Out). The sentiment doesn't mean much if the new material doesn't satisfy and, thankfully, Powderfinger's new album Golden Rule does prove to be a consistent effort that contains marks of a familiar sound with some original ideas that see the band maturing further.

Album highlight Iberian Dream is a bombastic rock track with an energy and swagger ripped straight from the Vulture Street era, while the also heavy Jewel channels the crazier moments from the often schizophrenic Internationalist. Leading single All of the Dreamers is an example of the group's more relaxed approach to songwriting, where the melodies and structures seem more free-flowing than the tight pop sensibilites of albums past, while also reminding of a classic Midnight Oil sound with its political ethos and stark, desert-like production.

Ballads dominate the rest of the album with Poison In Your Mind proving the most heart-warming. With its soaring harmonies and lavishly plucked chords, the song abounds with countless Crowded House-isms and doesn't prove too dissimilar from Fanning's own solo album Tea & Sympathy, with an almost sepia-like quality. It's the band's first foray into a relative bluegrass sound since thier early EP's, and is only too short to find a fault. Obvious single choice Burn Your Name recalls Vulture Street's Since You've Been Gone - both songs sharing a heart-wrenching chorus to die for - while slow tracks A Fight About Money and Sail the Wildest Stretch pile on the atmosphere thick and slow.

With a number of inconsequential tracks towards the end, Golden Rule falls short of being put upon a pedestal with the group's classic albums, but thankfully contains the best elements of all of them at times. The maniacal stretches of Internationalist, the layered moods of Odyssey Number Five, and the confident rock of Vulture Street all permeate within the material on Golden Rule. It is now clear that Powderfinger are letting their songwriting age as they do - as they relax into a carefree perspective, so do their songs. For this reason, Golden Rule is the most mature effort by one of Australia's most respected bands.



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user ratings (41)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
David James Young (2.5)
Because playing it safe just isn't rock & roll....

Michael Philp (4)
A fine return to form by Australia’s kings of rock....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Eclectic
November 12th 2009


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, it seems that its going to be a strong push to get this to a 4.5. Its so close, but just can't get there for me.

Jim
November 12th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks man. i don't think this has much of a chance of getting more than a 4 from me. glad you like it so much, though.

Eclectic
November 12th 2009


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hmm, well, I'm just waiting for the others to rate it and comment on the actual album.

Vooligan
November 12th 2009


3541 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Noiceeeee work Jimbob. Still need to get this, havn't heard anything off it yet.

Oh BTW, just heard Richo is retiring, shattered?

Douglas
November 12th 2009


9115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Need to listen to this, nice reviewing Jimbob.

Digging: The Preatures - Blue Planet Eyes

Vooligan
November 12th 2009


3541 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dougie, you checked out The Siren Tower yet?

Douchebag
November 12th 2009


3624 Comments


I still need to hear this.

Douglas
November 12th 2009


9115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Haha not yet Billy, I have been to busy watching Tiger.

qwe3
November 12th 2009


21362 Comments


fourth line

-Doubel Allergic


other than that superb review jim

Vooligan
November 12th 2009


3541 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Haha Dougie, I must be the only person in Australia that doesn't care about Tiger Woods being in Melbs (apart from David, of course)

Douchebag
November 12th 2009


3624 Comments


I don't really care either :P

Douglas
November 12th 2009


9115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Haha, well I was at the golf today, and it was awesome.

Douchebag
November 12th 2009


3624 Comments


haha awesome. I'm pretty sure the only time I took notice of gold was when I read Alice Cooper's biography, that guy sure loves his golf!

qwe3
November 12th 2009


21362 Comments


ugh golf

Douglas
November 12th 2009


9115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

... is great.

Anyway, enough spamming on Jim's review. Listening to this now, and enjoying immensely, probs around a 3.5

Jim
November 12th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks for the words guys, and thanks for the pick up mr qwe.

sorry i haven't been on much tonight, i've been knee deep in a multiplaying frenzy on MW2.

Meatplow
November 12th 2009


5524 Comments


This makes me want to listen to Internationalist again

Jim
November 13th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

listening to this on the way home, i just realised that a fight about money is my new favourite song. the last couple of minutes are brilliant.

Douglas
November 13th 2009


9115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

official a really high 3.5

Jim
November 13th 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey 3.5 is great.

so great!



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