Review Summary: An album full of fun-sweetness, even the artwork looks like it was done by your little sister.
A trio of bewildered looking children face a fork in the road, leading to that of a prospering township, or ominous yet wondrous looking woodland. Which path do they take? Or, more importantly, which path do Angus and his younger sister Julia decide they they’ll take underneath the dictation of their music and lyrics? It’s an interesting concept that the brother/sister duo loosely conform to during the course of their first full length album, A Book Like This
. But the album itself it too light and fluffy to be weighted by a profound concept as it’s sandbags, instead they use a more ensemble vocal technique whereby their voices represent each songs character; Julia’s tense fracturing one, and Angus’ more mature, yet still innocent slur. All the same they’re both child like, soft and, if anything, the sort of musical voice-overs you’d hear in some indirect minimalist tourism campaign on telly. (See “Loose Yourself in Melbourne”)
Thankfully in this context, their songs don’t tackle the crude topic above (nor should they). In place, storytellings for subjects that touch on the more gentle experiences of growing up are a matter of focus, such as those in “Just a Boy”
– a soft tale of a young boy’s irrepressible desire to “feel things he’s never felt before” from his crush, but is also told in accordance with the revelation, “did I say I’m just a boy”? Similarly, Julia later explains through the eyes of a young girl that “Hollywood”
is to be “blamed for showing things that should never be shown”, further showcasing the common theme for the young’s blamelessness in modern society alongside clear-cut acoustical environments.
Musical terrains are unearthed by the pair (plus additional studio members), not as if they were giant excavators, but instead formed within the humble origins of shovel and spade arrangements. The revealing opener “The Beast”
, and the measured motion in “Here We Go Again”
, offer a good place for the work’s gradual additions to form their musical foundations. While incredibly simple, their additive melodic arrangements and basic rhythm structures presented by Mitchell Connelly, coalesce with those from piano, harmonica, and strings in an effective manner. The vocal interaction essentially adds poignancy to these creations, which as mentioned earlier often formed around the caricatures that both sides bring at the track change event.
Where the earlier songs are focussed around purity, the midway markers offer more introspective motives. “A Book Like This”
and “Silver Coin”
show the pair’s compositional spark, generating emotion through an intimacy between 5-6 note piano archways and timidity in the lyrical delivery; while a brighter, beachy side is discovered in the last remnants of the album. “Jewels and Gold”
offers this sound well, and “Soldier”
and it’s later imitation “Another Day”
place humour and suspense side by side amid lengthy bar rests. It’s all reeled out by the appropriately named “Horse and Cart”
that trots along to the exit door, held buoyant by the cheerful double-tracked whistling, a cool beat, and even cooler lyrics.
If there’s anything Angus and Julia will need to refine, it is their sound. It will need to evolve to remain fresh amongst so many other acts that touch on similar playing fields. Just adding a cute guitar solo here, and a bit of saxophone or trumpet there, won’t necessarily cut it. But, who knows – if all goes well and their current promotional touring in the US doesn’t result in major hiccups they might just become one of Australia’s not-so-true-blue acts to become highly successful.