by Jim USER (23 Reviews)
April 8th, 2006 | 6 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Powderfinger - The White Album. This would have been an appropriate title for this sterling effort from the Aussie darlings of pop-rock. You see, much like The Beatles classic, it's considered by many to be their most essential purchase. It takes all of their traits, and throws them together in a colourful blend of musical goodness. The heart wrenching ballads, the ballsy rock anthems, and the downright bizarre. There's no other way to describe the exact genre of this album, other than to say it's a roller-coaster ride from start to finish.

At this stage in their career, the 'finger had already released their critically acclaimed sophomore album Double Allergic, and the masses were demanding another killer record. Boy, did they deliver...

Throwing away the darker sound that permeated throughout their previous work, the guys jumped in a van and headed off to a beach house to write the crux of the album. This is evident in the playful nature of many of the songs, a sure sign that they'd ditched the alternative sound and headed off into more pop-rock territory (note; this was during the post-grunge backlash of the mid nineties, which saw many grunge acts changing their sounds).

The album starts with the humblest of beginnings, a randomly placed drum beat kicking off what is probably the only happy song in the 'finger's melancholy riddled repertoire - Hindley Street. A simple song if ever there was one with an even simpler chorus.
na na na
na na na na
That's it. The fun-filled guitar solo and "all in" outro captures the idea of the album superbly - sit back and enjoy 45 minutes of pure entertainment courtesy of Powderfinger inc.

The fun loving sections of the album go a long way to rocking you're socks off. Don't Wanna Be Left Out is a crazy, 2 minute odd track that, when paired with maniacal Good Day Ray, demands to be turned up and danced to. The two tracks were released to the public as a double A side. Needless to say, the nation (who were used to more subtle efforts from the band) didn't get it. Shame. Horn accompanied Celebrity Head kicks on with the same kind of aggression, and is also a winner.

This record's not all up-tempo though. Single Already Gone is, as the band says - "us loving the Beatles". This influence is obvious. The innocent, melodic verse turns quickly into an anthem-like chorus full of despair and dejection. Yet, it's still fun! The radio loved this song, and it still gets airplay today, along with other classics. Belter is also an ode to the kings of pop-rock (Helter Skelter, anyone"). Probably the most aggressive thing on here, with a real "crunchy" sound, as the band have described.

It should be clear to you now, that the band is intent on taking us from one extreme to the other. If it isn't clear, let's introduce ballad Passenger. Amazing. Beautifil. The effing shiznit. I've run out of adjectives. This is one of their most successful singles, and there's a simple reason for this. It's so damn good. Heart-wrenching lyrics (which Bernard is known for) mixed with a truly uplifting chorus make this one of the greats. Do yourself a favour and download this now. Stop reading this review and hunt it down. You'll be hooked. Another ballad that pulls the heart strings is the gorgeous Trading Places. Although it's soft and lovely, it's still unlike anything they've ever done. Bernard's brilliant voice stands out over the top of some stunning instrumentation. The introduction of the cellos, as the song unassumingly fades away is simply moving. What a winner.

Politics is something the 'finger have always dabbled in, without letting it take over their albums like other bands who should just shut their mouths every now and then. Single Day You Come is this record's obligatory stab at the Howard government, as it was written when little Johnnie first came into power all those years ago. Enough of that though, what's the song like" Well, without sounding too enthusiastic, it's a ripper and one of the coolest songs you'll ever hear.
Memories are fading, single voice complaining
Days are stacking up
It's hardly worth debating, the people are frustrated
Drink from poisoned cup
The system is collapsing, conscious is relapsing
The damage has been done...
Another track that the public fell in love with, it still gets around on the wireless. Album epic Capoicity is another politically centred track, which begins somewhat slowly, but like all good classics, builds up to a fantastic finale that can only be described as uplifting. Album highlight, actually.

Album closer Lemon Sunrise is the most bizarre thing they've ever done, along with tracks like Boing Boing and Come Away on the previous album. Incredibly laid back and care-free, it's the only song on the album that actually gives a true indication that it was written in a beach house. All in all, it's just the 'finger exercising a sense of humour, which so many bands don't do these days!

One of the reasons Powderfinger have survived in the cut-throat music industry is that they have continued to evolve sonically instead of releasing stale efforts that all sound the same. Internationalist is the album that screams this idea. They're letting go to an extent and just making great music, irrespective of making sales or taking themselves too seriously. Many consider this to be the essential Powderfinger record, and with so much colour and variety crammed into a neat little package, they've got a good case. A beautiful, incomparable and truly surprising album.

Recent reviews by this author
Basement Birds Basement BirdsPowderfinger Golden Rule
Eskimo Joe Inshallaneath The Spiders Sleep
Powderfinger TransfusionContrive The Meaning Unseen

user ratings (60)
other reviews of this album
lz41 (4)
Powderfinger: because we respect you; because we love you...

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 8th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

It's about time this album had a review because it's considered by most to be their best. I'll review the rest when I can, too. :thumb:

April 8th 2006


I don't think I know one person who'd say the White Album is the essential Beatles album, but good review nevertheless.

I think so =/

good review too dude.

April 8th 2006


Nice review
Double Allergic was pretty good IMO, with the experimenting and all. I've only heard the singles from this cd and I thought this is the point they went really safe (plain), but maybe not...

I thought Like A Dog was on this cd.This Message Edited On 04.08.06

April 8th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

This is their least plain CD. Odyssey Number Five is their safest record (it's also my favourite), and that also contains Like a Dog.

And by referring to The Beatles self-titled, I mean it takes all of their different styles, and throws them together with little thought for cohesion. Yet somehow, it just works. That's probably why it's so admired.

May 30th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Good review of a great album. Love the 'Finger.

November 6th 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

Another great Australian rock band that cant make it overseas. WHY this stuff is better than most crap that comes out of USA and the UK. Its probably one of the great rock albums ever made. This band reminds me alot of Cold Chisel in the fact that they where so huge down under and so massively talented but cannot gain traction overseas. SUCH A SHAME.

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


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 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy