Sydney’s Jack Ladder won’t ever shake off Nick Cave comparisons – the voice, the look, some of the aesthetic – but there’s enough going on around that for this (and the previous albums) to never sound like any attempt at a carbon-copy; most enjoyably hints of Talk Talk, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, Avalon-era Roxy Music, those sorts of things…
A very sleepy, lovely, romantic 1980s feel slips in over the album, amber hues, nostalgic tint. Ladder gets to trade a few lines with Sharon Van Etten on one of the album’s standouts, To Keep & To Be Kept. Before that, Let Me Love You brings to mind those wistful 80s moments from The Dream Academy.
Kirin J Callinan is one of Ladder’s Dreamlanders, and his guitar work here is lovely, poised and a million miles from the throw-everything-at-the-wall-then-puke-on-it madness of his solo career.
The Miracle cribs some lines from Bukowski, Neon Blue does a nice line in nu-Goth, and the closer, Slow Boat To China, almost out-Ferrys/ferries Ferry.
It’s not a classic – but you get the feeling this is a nice thing to have, a sound that’ll always feel right, it’s half a great album and half a pretty-good album. And that’s still better than most.