Wednesday 3 July 2013

Scott & Charlene's Wedding: Any Port In A Storm

Any Port In A Storm is an album about leaving home and moving to New York. Like The Modern Lovers, it balances wide-eyed awe, suburban awkwardness and the outsider’s low-level alienation.

This record is full of compelling verse hook melodies that The Strokes could sometimes do - remember 12:51 (“talk to me now I’m older”) - slacker rock from The Lemonheads’ punk-pop period, and The Feelies’ jangle and drone. The edgy, impulsive noise is complemented by singer Craig Dermody’s smart way, like Pavement, of combining folksy storytelling with a sharp eye for detail.

Any Port In A Storm is fresher and more luminous than debut Para Vista Social Club, but these songs are no more polished than they need to be. What the two Scott & Charlene’s Wedding albums have in common is a distinct sense of place. Melbourne’s suburbs might have been swapped for NYC, but this is as much about missing Australia as it is about being lost in the USA.

For all the American influences I’ve suggested (and, yes, I know that the The Lemonheads got really good thanks to Australians Nic Dalton and Tom Morgan), Any Port In A Storm is, next to Dick Diver’s Calendar Days, the crowning achievement of the recent Australian underground’s, uh, maturity. It’s an album that’s nearer to mid-80s Paul Kelly - I’d put money on Adelaide and Look So Fine, Feel So Low being close to Dermody’s heart - than anything else.

This record sounds like it'll be a major event; whether it will be is a different question. There are at least 3 songs - Fakin’ NYC, Lesbian Wife, Jackie Boy - that you could play to a full room and every person there would get immediately. There aren't many underground albums, ones that sound so vital and yet so accessible, you could say that about.

Any Port In A Storm is out July 22

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