Powderfinger are a band that have enjoyed great success in Australia. They have this ability to appeal to the average commercial listener, yet still preserve the attention (and respect) of the indie-going public. This fourth studio album had the impossible task of proceeding what many thought couldn't be topped - album of the year, Internationalist. They did top it of course, and went on to win six more Aria's with this classic, Odyssey Number Five. Having six of it's tracks featured on the 1994-2000 Best Of, it is arguably the essential Powderfinger purchase.
Waiting for the sun
D minor. This chord is the rather iconic opener to this fine bit of plastic. Waiting For The Sun
is an absolute killer of a track that proves that pop can be
good. Bernard's enigmatic voice is only too capable of sending shivers down the spine, and the meaty guitars also provide a hefty backdrop, yet still retain the melancholic sentiment this band is true too. Emotional? Yes. Emo? Hell no. This track is quite possibly the best pop song (in terms of craftsmanship) they have ever made. Yet, the album isn't guilty of peaking too soon, as the rest of the record is simply magic.
Here it is. The big one. This second track went on to become their biggest hit, topping the charts, owning the radio air-play and winning the ARIA for single of the year. If you don't know this song you either live in a tree or don't live in Australia. The opening riff is a unique, wah pedal accompanied affair, and the chorus, while appearing heartening, is anything but.
My happiness is slowly creeping back,
Now you're at home.
If it ever starts sinking in
It must be when you pack up and go
The irony. Another irony is, considering the success this song achieved, it is far from the best track on the album. Funny that. A great song, none-the-less.
Possibly the most underrated song in their catalogue, this third single from the album was practically rejected by the masses as sounding too familiar. "It sounds like all their other stuff". Well, of course it sounds like Powderfinger. It is
Powderfinger. The fact is, this is one the most uplifting and spirited songs you'll ever hear. The chorus "Welcome to the saving grace / There's a sunset on the road / reappearing as we go"
, while melancholic in presentation, still provides a message of hope. The string-accompanied interlude also packs a surprising punch. Who'd o'thunk it?
Like a Dog
This second single is widely forgotten by the public because it was released after mammoth single My Happiness
. Shame. This track is effing brilliant. It's hard to describe the sound of this song - however, I recall playing the riff for a boof-headed chum one day. He responded surely and confidently - "Raaaaaage." Now, either he was using some hip, teen adjective I was unfamiliar with, or he thought I was playing Rage Against the Machine. Ah, well. I guess there's some similarity. The song was written about the Howard government's treatment (read 'poor treatment') of indigenous Australians at the time, and the film clip starred none other than that loud-mouthed aboriginal boxer Anthony Mundine. The bassline in the outro is also a real winner.
Odyssey # Five
The self-titled track is an intermission of sorts. A short, single versed, melodic piece that sort of acts as a partition between the two halves of the album. However, regardless of it's short running time, it is still an essential song, containing the lyrics - "Welcome to the new suburban fables"
- which became the promotional line for the album and tour. Short but sweet.
Up & Down & Back Again
A cult favourite amongst fans. This epic track begins modestly with the lyrics - "Come and rescue me / In the water deep"
- and then never really stops being brilliant from there. Beautiful tracks like this are Powderfinger's bread and butter. They do it a lot, and they do it best. The lyrics seem to reflect the idea of being yourself and perhaps struggling with celebrity.
If everybody knows just who you are
When your walk on role becomes a major part
Have you ever attempted to be yourself?
When everybody wants you to be someone else?
For a long time this was my favourite Powderfinger song. A real hidden gem.
My Kind Of Scene
The first song they wrote when putting together the album, it also features on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack for some reason. This is surprising given the nature of the song, which has nothing to do with sloppy acting, bad Australian clichés and killing bad guys. Movie soundtracks aside, this is another 'finger classic which displays all the hallmarks of what makes them great - Awesome melodies, memorable lyrics and a chorus you could eat with a spoon. Top shelf stuff, really. You can hardly get better than this.
is their most successful, but this diddy is their most well known. Such is the people's love for this track, it's become an Aussie anthem along with likes of Khe sanh and that other one. You know, something about a fried up comby. Vehicles aside, this melancholic song is sheer class throughout. Musically, it's sublime. Well, in the verses at least. For the chorus seems to come from nowhere, breaking out into a huge rock number tugging at your heart strings yet still managing to make you nod your head. For trivia's sake, it's another film number, featuring on the Two Hands soundtrack. In fact, it was specifically written for it.
We Should Be Together Now
Just as you think you've got them sussed, they throw this scorching track at you, which goes a long way to proving they know how to put the lighter's away and belt out a thrilling rock tune with a pulse. Lyrically, it's a relatively straight-forward love song. But the music doesn't seem to represent this sentiment, thumping on with a more aggressive attitude. And is that a piano I detect amongst the pounding guitars? Yep. This is really exciting stuff, and another underrated track, as it has the unfortunate luck of being placed between arguably their two best songs.
This is the album's obligatory epic track, and is pretty much the quintessential Powderfinger song. It begins with a haunting rock riff that doesn't really hint at how massive the next six minutes are going to be. Lyrically, it's one the strongest tracks in their impressive repertoire, and the chorus is so damn charming you may find yourself smitten with the lead singer.
If you wait, I'm gonna drive it home
Carry all of this away from here
If you wait, I'm gonna drive it home
Kiss you every time the rains appear
After a simple verse/chorus affair, it slips into a manic jam session that slowly builds up to an almighty climax. What follows is a mellow, piano accompanied verse that takes the breath away. A true epic track. Even if you don't like Powderfinger, you must listen to this. It's the bees friggin' knees.
Whatever Makes You Happy
This somewhat anticlimactic closer is actually quite appropriate in wrapping up the album. It's a beautiful, short acoustic track with gold plated lyrics.
Dream on together
Leaning against eachother
However it happens I hope it's
Whatever makes you happy
It is an inspiring track that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy, and also proves the song-writing talent these musicians possess.
Overall, the poppier direction the band took with the record ensures that this is probably the most accessible album for the non/soon-to-be fan. Many people say Internationalist or even Double Allergic is their finest hour, but even they would agree that this album is simply amazing and is just another great addition to their terrific collection. Don't even Try B4U Buy. Just buy.