One of Australia's most unrecognised indie-pop outfits, Sandpit enjoyed a brief but productive career spanning 1994-1998. Like their previous EPs, this album was released through Fellaheen Records, and is both their first and last album, with the band members going their seperate ways after its release.
Running in at just under 40 minutes, the album is comprised of ten tracks, two of which (Along The Moors
and Greater Expectations
) were released as singles. The sound of the disc could be best described as fractured, melodic, indie-pop. It is this, along with guitarist Brendan Webb's tendency to experiment with altered guitar tunings and unusual chords, that have led some to liken the band to Sonic Youth.
The songs on the album range from upbeat indie-pop (Along The Moors
), Hold Yr Horses
, Greater Expectations
), to slower and more reflective songs (Metamorphosis
, I Positively Hate You Now
, Walk In A Straight Line
), while others are dynamic-driven instrumental tracks (Whole Again
) and the final track, Crepe-Paper Fortress
, sounds like a combination of all these traits.
Musically, they are a guitar driven three piece, though Brendan experiments with the use of a melodica and e-bow to expand the band's sonic boundaries. Lyrically, the album is introspective and emotionally diverse, sometimes melancholic and joyful in the same song (see Along The Moors
). This contrast is played upon in tracks such as Hold Yr Horses
and I Positively Hate You Now
), in which the emotional qualities of the lyrics and music are juxtaposed against eachother to great effect, with a nagging degree of tension accompanying each track as a result (more on this later). The main focus of the songs is on the vocals and guitar, with no real feature parts for the bass and drums, played by Stephanie Ashworth and Greg Wales respectively. This not a shortcoming, but rather a strength, as the rhythm section perform with an exceptional degree of tightness throughout the disc, not just with eachother, but also with the guitar and vocals, whether on driving tracks like Helicopters
or on more rhythmically lethargic tracks like Metamorphosis
Listening through the album, it is quickly apparent that the songs are written for the instruments to work together cohesively - the vocal lines and guitar parts make this evident in a melodic sense (especially in the outro of Hold Yr Horses
, where the guitar part reproduces the vocal melody of the verse and chorus, integrated into the chords) while rhythmically it is evident in the way the bass and drums match the movement of the lead lines. Subtle strengths add an extra layer of depth to structurally simple songs, and traits like this are one of the main appeals of On Second Thought
The vocals on the record are softly sung, but clearly audible, complimenting the mood of the fractured chords and fragile melodies, being sure not to overpower them even though the vocals are mixed into the foreground (perhaps a good time to mention that drummer Greg Wales was responsible for the production, and contributed to the recording/mixing).
The (predominantly) instrumental track Whole Again
seems to begin with the tail-end of I Positively Hate You Now
, the only lyrics in the track being sung over the first few chords - "We'd all like to feel slightly whole again, it'd be nice to feel kind of whole again", feeling like an emotional follow on. The instrumental section of the song builds back up from the subdued melodies of the previous track, utilising a rise & fall dynamic that showcases Brendan's unique guitar stylings and introduces a violin/e-bow in the later section. Instrumentally this is one of the stand-out tracks of the album and a good represenation of the band musically. A similar song is found in DI/Eclipse
, which is wholely instrumental and darker in texture, whereas the previous song used clean guitar tones, this track features layered distorted guitar tracks and noise, somewhat reminiscent of Ten Rapid
The final track on the album, Crepe-Paper Fortress
, sums up most of what has gone on musically over the course of the album. Beginning with slow, subdued clean guitar and vocals, the song builds over the first minute to crashing distorted chords and back again. This song carries the distinct feeling that the tension built up over the previous tracks has finally been explosively released, and is perfectly suited to be the album closer.
Overall, On Second Thought
provides a solid listen of creatively written and diverse indie-pop, by a band with enough variation in the mood and style of their songs to keep the record from becoming tedious, and enough musical ability and creativity to establish them as a unique group with a sound that was truly their own. Definately a shame that they didn't last any longer, but a record like this remains something to be proud of all the same.