Purplene
Purplene


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
October 24th, 2011 | 135 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Why try..

For the past four years, I've spent at least half of my time in Brisbane, Australia's third-largest city and the capital of Queensland, our second-largest state in terms of area. For the most part, I like it here a lot; the people are friendly, the weather is nice for most of the year, it's in close proximity to some of the nicest beaches in the world. In 2009, The Economist rated it the world's 16th most livable city, just above Montreal. Brisbane's cultural contributions are also notable: proto-punks The Saints, post-punk band The Go-Betweens, novelist David Malouf, poet Judith Wright are prominent examples. I mention all of this only to note that in spite of it all, Brisbane is still mostly thought of as being a bit of a hole, somewhat by the people of Sydney and Melbourne, but mostly Brisbane residents themselves. 'Third largest city' is a relative concept, particularly when you're situated in the armpit of a country way the *** south of anywhere else in the Western world.

Living in Brisbane, I think, helps me understand why Purplene, the Steve Albini recorded second and final album from the band of the same name, is such a great record and additionally, why it's so well-regarded by people up here. Purplene originally came from Newcastle, another small and often forgotten about Australian city and after they broke up, members went on to form a number of great Australian bands like Firekites, The Instant and especially Charge Group. The record itself is completely unassuming; a gentle and effortless set of eight songs that combine the prettiest parts of Karate, American Football, Bark Psychosis, and Low in which almost every note seems perfectly placed but with a veneer of complete nonchalance. In comparison with Purplene's first album Ruining it For Everyone, Purplene feels like a completely different, far more mature, band. Where the first album went for dynamic, soaring melodies with pronounced rhythms and chord progressions, Purplene's guitars, drums and vocals, though more complex, create something truly unified. Even in the record's louder moments, no one instrument is ever privileged and no vocal harmony is ever less than subtle.

Purplene is (surely due largely to Steve Albini's masterful engineering) a plain-spoken record that simply allows the songs to speak for themselves; there are no guitar effects, and there's no reverb, overdubbing, or any studio trickery to speak of. The record's greatest strength is its shunning of the excesses of the genres it takes its influence from. Songs like "The Battler", with brush-based drumming and twinkly, complex clean guitar patterns avoid the technical excesses of math-rock with simple, gorgeous vocal melodies and harmonies, while more atmospheric tracks like closer "Watch the Watch" avoid the indulgent long-windedness of post-rock by moving steadily through varying sections. And more straight-ahead tracks like "Swords Down" and "Second Shift", with drumming as simple as possible, avoid indie rock cliche by replacing cheesy choruses with deceptively aloof vocal lines. Even lyrically, the record gives a vibe of indifference, with blunt and simple fragments or line that almost seem to come together through free association but that could not be more perfect in communicating linguistically what the songs seem to say musically (best example: the continually repeated 'catching reams of faceless distant enemies' from "The Battler").

On paper, Purplene might sound like a record that expresses a cool indifference that's typical of far too much indie-rock in 2011. A better description of the record's feel would be resignation. When I think about how gorgeous the melodies of Purplene are, or how perfectly arranged it is, I feel like it's a record I should frame and display on my wall, perhaps alongside pieces like Talk Talk's Laughing Stock or Low's Long Division. But when I go back and listen to it, I know it's an album that would be entirely uncomfortable with such treatment. Instead, Purplene seems to me a record that when confronted with the respect it deserves, simply smiles and shrugs its shoulders.



Recent reviews by this author
White Suns Waking in the ReservoirQuiet Steps Think Aloud
Grinderman Grinderman 2Jakob Dominion
Norma Jean MeridionalRosetta A Determinism of Morality
user ratings (42)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Shrapnel94
October 24th 2011


2213 Comments


Oh shit, I never thought I'd see these guys on Sputnik

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 24th 2011


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've been wanting to to it for a while. One of my favourite Australian albums ever.

Also, you can stream the full thing here: http://purplene.bandcamp.com/

Bloodbirds
October 24th 2011


250 Comments


"I've lived spent....." I think you meant to used one of those.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 24th 2011


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers.

Gyromania
October 24th 2011


15941 Comments


Can't remember the last time I read one of your reviews. Excellent work, man!

AtavanHalen
October 24th 2011


17927 Comments


Wow, what a blast from the past this was.

kanecooper
October 24th 2011


630 Comments


this sounds like it could be pretty good, unlikely I'll get round to checking it out but all the same ...

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2011


23923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this sounds really cool I think I'll give it a go.

nice review, I liked the personal approach

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

chaseee
October 24th 2011


223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

American Football recommendation.. Im interested

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2011


16571 Comments


whoah. feels like its been forever

Digging: Taylor Swift - 1989

Winesburgohio
October 24th 2011


1042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

American Football, Laughing Stock and Long Division in the 'recommended by reviewer' section?

I'M SOLD

Digging: Vashti Bunyan - Heartleap

Eko
October 24th 2011


2119 Comments


based on the review this sounds amazing

Spare
October 25th 2011


5322 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

oh shit i've never heard of this and i'm australian i guess i'm now obligated to listen

also every single rec makes me moist. karate especially.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 25th 2011


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think Karate's probably the closest band in sound I can think of.

Spare
October 25th 2011


5322 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah this is a lot like karate. is also fuuuuucking awesome god damn. wish i could get into the good australian bands before the break the fuck up. goddamn aus music scene needs to glorify the bands that are actually good more often. got any recs for similarly obscure/good australian stuff buddy?

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 25th 2011


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just been really busy this year is all.

Albini records a lot of great stuff. I always mention his name on albums he engineers because it sometimes gets people interested.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 25th 2011


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah this is a lot like karate. is also fuuuuucking awesome god damn. wish i could get into the good australian bands before the break the fuck up. goddamn aus music scene needs to glorify the bands that are actually good more often. got any recs for similarly obscure/good australian stuff buddy?


Check out Charge Group. 3/4 of Purplene now plays in that band. For some other stuff, check out To The North and Epithets for similar stuff. There are stacks of great bands active in Australia at the moment. Try Turnpike, Royal Headache, Blank Realm, Absolute Boys, Kitchen's Floor, Eleventh He Reaches London, Naked on the Vague, No Anchor, Woollen Kits, Nikko, Quiet Steps and Teargas for starters. That list is dominated by Brisbane bands, but there's plenty of great stuff happening everywhere. Where are you from?

Spare
October 25th 2011


5322 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the only band i recognise there is eleventh he reaches london. where the fuck are you finding this shit

i'm from port macquarie which has a non-existent music scene other than deathcore bands

edit: side note scars for sores kinda sounds like something for kate in a good way

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 25th 2011


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

From going to shows mostly. There are some good blogs you can keep an eye on though. Try these:

http://eternalsoundcheck.blogspot.com/
http://fanmaderecordings.blogspot.com/
http://sydneytapes.blogspot.com/ (hasn't been updated for a while)
http://crankingamps.blogspot.com/
http://turnitupto10.blogspot.com/

Also check out Tenzenmen records. Shaun puts out so much good Australian stuff.

Spare
October 25th 2011


5322 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks heaps man. been in need of getting into more quality aus bands seeing as i fuckin live here and shit. anyway this album is goddamn fantastic fo real

also the singer reminds me of someone else so much



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy