Pool House Records
The opening line of the album opener, “When I say you drive me to drink/I’m the one that puts the bottle to my lips” – sounds like Guyville-era Liz Phair interpreting Denis Johnson but Jess Locke’s drawled-out ode to personal responsibility (Drive To Drink) takes on its own shape with the layering of each and every line. This is a confident, assured attempt at all that has been fine with her music so far, but aiming to put distance between the bedsit and the bar.
The Melbourne-based singer/songwriter has a fresh, strong batch of songs and a great band behind her. And if you leap for a Courtney Barnett comparison across the title track and Better-Bitter well, fair enough. There’s some of the low-slung gats and snarling grit – but this is more melodic, less pleased with itself, nowhere near as zeitgeisty, and all the better for it in my opinion. Not that it’s about ranking things – this isn’t better than Barnett, just more tuneful.
Every song works. Dangerous is another in that Liz Phair vein, but Violent Turn slows things down. We move away from the gurning churn and towards a slower type of groove.
Perhaps the over-sharing style of lyric-writing could put some off but I dig it. These are sharp pieces of work – and on tunes like Paper Planes, Sublime Anxiety and Gut Feeling I get the same feeling as I do when listening to Fazerdaze’s excellent album. In that it’s familiar, reminiscent, nostalgic, but ultimately it hasn’t (quite) been done before; just evocative of an era and style and feel – good ole Record Collection Pop once again. I say when it works it works.
And Universe is an album worth checking out.
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