Thursday, February 4, 2010

Western Front

Bobby and I were lucky enough to score tickets (look at me, I sound like a hardcore music user) to St. Jerome's Laneway Festival, a wonderful event that took place last Sunday at the beautiful Sydney College of the Arts (SCA). Amongst an amazing collection of talented acts, including Daniel Johnston, Florence and the Machine and The XX, local quintet Bridezilla dazzled the indie crowd and reminded me just how good their new record is. I reviewed it a couple of months ago - it was in fact my first ever album review - for This Way In. Bobby, I should also mention, reviewed the whole of St. Jerome's which you can find on his website.

Photo taken by the wonderfully talented Daniel Boud of award winning website

If you're in Sydney, check out his exhibition at Mart Gallery in Surry Hills - the opening of which is tonight.

It takes some effort not to be jealous of Bridezilla. Not only are the quintet insanely talented, stylish, mature, musically educated, incredibly humble - even violinist Daisy Tulley, who’s notoriously crass - and more goddamn good looking than you or I will ever be, they’re all younger too. Whilst I’m getting pissed on other people’s booze, chain smoking and chatting up some guy (who I later realise is my boyfriend and not even worth my pick up lines), they’re likely to be found sitting in the darkest corner of the party having quiet, intelligent conversations. That is, if they’ve been coerced into going out at all. Their music is beguiling as they are, and the snowballing of their success comes as no surprise to anyone who’s seen them perform, which, let’s be frank, includes most of Sydney - even my Mother’s seen them - and, with the band having just returned home from playing the Flaming Lips-curated All Tomorrow Parties Festival, New York has now held witness to their explosive live show too.

Therefore, given this reputation, it comes as some surprise that, on first listen, Bridezilla’s aptly named debut long player, The First Dance, is almost unbearably restrained. It plays in dramatic contrast to their passionate live performances, which see regular outbreaks from Tulley and Millie Hall on saxophone. The album is an understated, tense and sombre affair. There’s a tautness that runs through the record, threatening to break out into an explosion of improvisation though, amazingly, it never does. This is perhaps most apparent in the almost entirely instrumental Soft Porn. It’s certainly a beautiful self-discipline, and the way Holiday Carmen-Sparks’ seductive croons complement the dizzyingly harmonious instrumentation is mesmerising. The most jarring sounds on the album – and they’re not really very jarring at all - come courtesy of Magnetic Arrest, with it’s pulsing beat, it was inspired by Carmen-Sparks’ trip to America. Queen of Hearts and Tailback meanwhile, are two examples that the band are more than able to write attractive pop numbers, without compromising their gothic sound.

It’s easy to dismiss Bridezilla as a band whose hype has come courtesy of the novelty of their youth, which is mentioned in almost every review and interview, but with The First Dance, they truly have created something far beyond their years. It’s an album that stands alone. Immerse yourself in The First Danceand any pre conceived notions you have become irrelevant. Released this month, their much anticipated debut long-player (they formed all the way back in 2005) is brooding and measured. Perhaps you won’t be dancing around the room to it, getting pissed and chatting up every person you fall upon, but it’s the perfect record to have a quiet conversation to in a dark corner of the room. In fact, who needs conversation? Whack it on your iPod and seclude yourself in Australia’s outback (somewhere like The Colo River, perhaps). It’s wonderful. Of course it is. What else would you expect from Sydney’s finest five piece?


Jenn said...

Speaking of Australian bands with violinists, Firekites aren't bad either... really lucid, beautiful music.

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s.l. frank said...

a well wrought review. thank you for the introduction; what a wonderful sound.

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