Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Reviews: PVT / BARB

Here are a couple of reviews that won't see the light of day otherwise. The bright and the iffy of Antipodean music, so it is.

Church With No Magic

Rugged Sydney synth merchants back with a third album and a new name.

Pivot, or PVT as they are now known after a legal challenge from an American band with the same name, have always dwelt in an ominous, more hip and subterranean realm than the likes of comparable Australian acts like Cut Copy or Midnight Juggernauts. This is largely down to the fact they are signed to Warp Records, who are so credible it hurts, what with the giant figure of Aphex Twin still an influence on all their releases. Church With No Magic tentatively moves away from the consistent electro bang and clatter of 2008’s O Soundtrack My Heart and instead features pounding crescendos and peaks and troughs of experimental – almost industrial – noise, best evidenced on the imperious 'Light Up Bright Fires'. Preventing the record from being too abrasive are the mellow pop vocals of singer Richard Pike, which take a much more central role than ever before. Church With No Magic is an impressive evolution, though one senses PVT’s true potential is still to be realised.

Key Tracks: 'Light Up Bright Fires', 'Window', 'Timeless'



Young luminaries pool resources for first album together.

Whenever a so-called generation of artists emerges from a certain part of the world, those involved are usually quick to disassociate themselves from such a thing, eager to be seen as individuals and not the result of a ‘vibrant scene’. The current golden generation of young Antipodean songwriters, however, have always seemed eager to celebrate themselves, and so it is that BARB has emerged, a veritable supergroup featuring Liam Finn, James Milne (a.k.a Lawrence Arabia), EJ Barnes, Connan Mockasin, and Seamus Ebbs.

The warmth between this lot is admirable, but unfortunately the project falls down simply because of a lack of personality. It seems all these talents are deferring to each other with none injecting their full selves into the songs, and thus the album is a rather gutless, ill-disciplined mess; BARB lacks the wit and charm of Milne or the soul and passion of Finn. Songs such as 'Lot To Learn' and 'Characterful' feel like the result of half-hearted jamming, waiting for something to happen that clearly never did. ‘A Time To Contemplate’, sung by Finn, marks the only occasion any kind of firm direction is found, a spooky, frenzied track marked by Finn’s familiar electronic experimentation. But it’s not enough, considering the undoubted flair of the artists involved.

Key Tracks: 'A Time To Contemplate', 'Beatman Hasn’t Eaten', 'Counting Sheep'

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