The Queensland psych explorers can't quite match up to their influences
Thanks to Tame Impala and the rest of their Perth pals, it’s now a surprise to find a new Australian indie rock band whose sound isn’t engulfed in a Kevin Parker-indebted fug of psychedelia. The druggy delirium of Brisbane’s The John Steel Singers however, samples a few more European strains of the genre. The slippery bassline and dreamy harmonies of ‘Happy Before’ take you dancing round a French disco and, predictably, the skittering ‘Never Read Tolstoy’ has a certain eastern European shanty quality.
But it’s the band’s love of krautrock that leads to the weirdest wig outs. At the album’s centre, ‘The Marksman’ captures the ethereal essence of Can, before ‘State Of Unrest’ rumbles along like a happy-go-lucky Hookworms, with an energy indebted entirely to Neu!.
The problem is that The John Steel Singers never quite exceed the sum of their influences. At times they’re a cross between Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Kevin Parker’s Tame, but without the charisma or the hooks of either. It all makes for a slightly unimpressive, but not entirely unrewarding record.