Review Summary: An uneasy debut sees Sydney girls-and-guy create a sound that's very pretty but lacking in edge.
Remember your final year of high school at all" Going about the normal things teenagers are doing at that stage: exams, parties, socialising, playing Australia’s biggest music festivals, touring overseas, releasing a critically acclaimed EP…oh wait, that wasn’t you" Sorry, it’s just with the way Sydney band Bridezilla have gone about things, it just seems as natural as any other inner-city kid’s life.
The last couple of years have been both insanely busy and ridiculously fortunate for the quintet – the kind of schedule that has seen them grow up much quicker than others at their age. All of this has finally culminated in the release of the band’s debut album, The First Dance
. It is a brooding album of sorrow and lament – so much so that it initially deters your listening into being uncomfortable. Having said that, there’s still a strong chance that fans of alternative/indie rock with a symphonic touch will find moments of pleasure here.
The most significant fault to be had with The Last Dance
is the band’s conspicuous struggles in turning their quirks into worthwhile musical aspects. Yes, they have a saxophonist and a violin player – and that’s fine and dandy in terms of helping the band stand out from their contemporaries. It can even add to the atmosphere of the songs, with the melodramatic sway of “Heart You Hold” holding significant water for violinist Daisy Tulley. It becomes a problem for the band, however, when these two instruments either sift off into the background of the music or are struggling to be heard over Holiday Sidewinder’s world-weary, Sarah Blasko-esque sighs or Pia May’s rich, echoing guitar. Not all bands can work democratically, but if you’re going to have a line-up which deviates itself from the norm, perhaps the music itself should follow suit.
Additionally, the album suffers from an unfortunately high amount of filler, making the highlights few and far between as the more boring, similar-sounding numbers bleed into one another. While we’re on the topic of being boring, just why exactly is everything so softly-spoken and underplayed" The band proved with their EP’s lead single, “Brown Paper Bag”, that they can create the kind of music that swirls and upsurges in an upbeat manner whilst still maintaining that sense of slightly-paranoid melancholy. On here, however, practically everything is a cautious whisper dragged out for twice its needed length. Even when things threaten to pick up the pace (“White Feather”, “Heart You Hold”) and get exciting, the songs anticlimactically ride along the very edge. Essentially, they are spending their entirety on the verge of something big and bluntly stopping before anything of note can happen. It’s moments like these that truly leave a bitter taste in listener’s mouths that are aware that the band can not only aim higher, but also hit the target.
In spite of obvious flaws, there are still a handful of truly lovely moments of music. This is the kind that can easily substantiate any claims that this is a band that overflowing with potential. Take the opening couple of “Lunar Eclipse” and single “Beaches”. The former sees Sidewinder moaning her lonesome blues through a distorted microphone as Tulley and saxophonist Millie Hall march through a tale of a broken heart in repair. The latter is one of the best things the band have put to record – gorgeously arranged harmonies are matched with a multifaceted backdrop that shifts its weight around equally amongst each member in its two and a half minutes. If there is anything that you will keep coming back to, chances are it will be one of these two tracks.
The First Dance
is somewhat of a race between blissful, charming melody and overtly boring pretension. Disappointingly, it almost always seems like the latter is getting closer to the finish line than the former. Still, to discredit a band so young entirely really does seem rash. There’s only one way to put it: much like the pomegranate that adorns the album cover, The First Dance
is a sometimes food.