Coconut Cream – ‘What Kind of Music Do You Like to Listen To?’ review: indie rock with an eye for the small, significant things

On this EP, the Sydney quartet’s songwriter Astari Mudana emerges as a canny, detail-oriented lyricist

For a band named after an unassuming pantry staple, it’s fitting that Coconut Cream seize upon the totemic meaning in everyday items. From parking tickets to unmade cups of tea, the Sydney quartet’s new EP keeps a running inventory of such small but powerful emblems.

Singer/lyricist Astari Mudana anoints those fleeting mentions with powerful doses of mixed emotions, drawing on her own personal experience for all six songs here. Describing the temptation to fall back into a familiar romantic dynamic despite knowing better, the single ‘Safety Net’ finds her putting on the subject’s brand of cologne after noticing it in a pharmacy. She even cites the exact raincoat she’s wearing, aware that the subject will know it all too well.

Those minor touches can pack a wallop, and it’s rare to see such a young band brandishing them so effectively. After meeting at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2018, Mudana convened Coconut Cream with guitarist Oscar Saran, bassist Chad Kennedy and drummer Jasmine Tan, devoting early songs to such modest subject matter as fairy bread and day drinking. But beneath those innocuous themes beats an anxious, relatable heart, with Mudana’s songwriting following in the subtly scathing tradition of Courtney Barnett and Camp Cope.

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She also knows how to set a scene, with opener ‘Your Drug on Computers’ closely following a relationship across gigs, house party, supermarket aisles, vacant trains and broken-down buses. Mudana’s vocals arc upwards as the guitar jangles and crashes, the drama bolstered further by horns. Similarly, ‘Overgrown’ muses about moving on from a break-up while getting used to sleeping alone and not scanning crowds for a certain face.

Produced by Middle Kids’ Tim Fitz, who also contributed some extra instrumentation, this EP adds oomph to the band’s yearning yet breezy indie rock. Observe the satisfying leap in intensity and acceleration for the chorus of the initially mellower ‘Parking Ticket’, complete with low-key production details like distorted drums and effects-streaked guitar.

But the closing title track, which was recorded in a single take in Saran’s back paddock without Fitz, shows how much cathartic urgency Coconut Cream can harness on their own. That’s especially impressive considering that all of these songs originated on Mudana’s acoustic guitar, before the other band members built upon her scaffolding – a process most transparent in the centrepiece ballad ‘More Time’, an empathetic lament about constantly falling behind schedule.

Coconut Cream have only been releasing music for three years, but they’ve already made a strong impression – last year, they were scooped up by Broth Records, the Joji Malani-founded fledgling indie label that has also signed emerging Sydney acts like Meteor Infant and Morgues. And if this rollicking six-song introduction feels like it’s over too soon, add in their previous EP and you’ve got yourself an album.

Details

Coconut Cream What Kind of Music Do You Like to Listen to EP review
  • Release date: February 18
  • Record label: Broth Records
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