With six albums across a decade Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner have been consistent in making strong music; following their own path from retro-rock fetishists – tied to the marketing as much as anything – out to post-Spector, punk-influenced fuzzy power-pop. It’s not so much that the music is retro-rock as a case that Wagner’s musical heroes are all in the past. The music he’s creating might trace around 60s ideals – more so than actual ideas – but it is still modern enough for now, even if it sticks to conventional songwriting and production ideas, normal instruments, the standard pop-song approach.
Observator is great – for many reasons, probably most of all for sticking to the tried and true three-minute pop-song approach (and, in most cases, nailing it). I like that it’s just nine songs long. And just half an hour in length – it never outstays its welcome. I like it because every track is a winner, there’s no filler and no chance for anything to drag the chain. It reminds me of the Cat’s Eyes side-project from one of the guys from The Horrors; it’s not as melodramatic, maudlin and moody – and, frankly, it’s not quite as good. But it is a great record, one that rewards. I might seem late to the party reviewing it now but that’s because I just keep listening to it. Round and round it goes and I’m hooked from the opening Young and Cold through to closing track, Til The End. (Make a short album and if it’s good it will get played twice-over and three-times-over in one go; that’s far more likely than if it’s some overbearing monster album that threatens to swallow your stereo).
The best elements are in place, bits of surf guitar merging with a shoegaze feel – and it all feels lived-in, tested, true, honest, that was always my complaint with bands like The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; I didn’t quite believe them. The music felt like slogans, like graffiti quips, bag tags, the smart thing you think to say only after – but the music on Observator, like a lot of the music from The Raveonettes, feels true. And real. And composed in the moment, thought of and actioned. And that’s why I keep listening to this album. That’s why I like this album. And that’s why I have a whole new appreciation for a band I have to admit I have, from time to time, written off as a bit of a fad/prank. Not the case. I see that now. I hear that now. And though I’m hooked on Observator right now it’s made me also go back through the band’s catalogue to find all the other gems.