Review Summary: Aussie indie-pop that uses influences from practically every continent.
While there is no reason why it should not hold true for musicians from any country, often an appealing factor for Australian outfits is their ability to use many worldwide influences in conjunction with their own home-grown sound, to good effect. On their debut LP ‘In a Million Years’, Brisbane indie-pop quartet Last Dinosaurs have wisely done exactly that, taking in the sounds of practically every continent to craft what is ultimately a satisfying release. There’s some African percussion here, a hint of the Caribbean there, while mainland Europe (Phoenix), the U.K (Franz Ferdinand) and America (Vampire Weekend) are all represented. Throw in the fact that three of these four Aussies have Japanese heritage, and you can easily see why there is a veritable melting-pot of influences evident on this album.
The first five tracks here are a consistent and immediate batch of well-executed, toe-tapping indie-pop tunes that make it difficult for any listener to keep still. Take a fancy to one of the songs from the LPs front half and you are sure to be pleased by the accompanying four. Enthusiastically infectious guitar lines and vibrantly summery vocals are the main conjoining thread between these tracks, with catchy singles ‘Zoom’ and ‘Time & Place’ being nicely complemented by the jangly guitars of ‘I Can’t Help You’ and ‘Andy’, while ‘Sunday Night’ brings the tropical element. An argument could be made, however, that all five are a variation on the same theme, with too much reliance on Lachlan Caskey's sublime guitar-work... Cue the ambient, sub two minute instrumental centrepiece ‘Satellites’, which ushers in the relatively more experimental and diverse latter half of ‘In a Million Years’.
While the production is effectively – maybe too – slick throughout, there is a concerted effort to add some subtle grit to the band’s sound, which gives off a welcome rockier edge to even the poppiest tunes. This works a treat on the new-wave influences of ‘Weekend’, with keys and guitar coalescing as beautifully as Sean Caskey’s relaxed vocals integrate with drummer Dan Koyama’s up-tempo beat. Unfortunately, the aforementioned rock aspect is taken too far on ‘I Can’t Decide’, with the grungy alt-rock tune not suiting any member of the quartet and mixing uncomfortably with the outfit’s trademark jangly sound. Meanwhile, competent ballad ‘Used To Be Mine’ is expectedly nondescript (despite a surprising F-bomb popping up in the sing-along bridge), and closer ‘Repair’ is a so-so stab at the now customary all-encompassing epic, which has as many bad points as it does good.
In fact, it really is a shame that ‘In a Million Years’ did not close with highlight EP holdover ‘Honolulu’, since it revisits the album’s first half and effectively summarizes all of the band’s strengths. Furthermore, for an LP which begins with a chorus of "In a million years when we're older, finally we can be part of history", it would have been a fitting finale to close with a refrain of “The story only just began, surely it should never ever end”. That may be taking it to the extreme, but on the evidence provided by this addictively hook-laden debut, Last Dinosaurs will indeed be around for some time yet. While overly familiar and not exactly innovative, the room for improvement factor is high since the oldest member of the band is just 22. Fun, enjoyable and extremely crowd-pleasing, 'In a Million Years' is a very likeable release which should appeal to a wide audience... and deserves to be heard as such.
Recommended Tracks: Honolulu, Weekend, Time & Place & Zoom.