PALE MORNING - Deserters (Popboomerang)
'Organic' is a word you don't often see applied to pop music. It's seemingly deemed unfashionable these days. And yet, it's a cap that fits this Melbourne band and one they wear without shame.
Luke Thomas leads Deserters and if his name's familiar it's because he's half of the core of The Pictures (the other party in that band being You Am I's Davey Lane, who guests on one track here.)
Deserters play an elegant, almost unassuming style of pop. It's not hyperactive or sugary, lilting in places and clear-headed. "Life Goes On" and the gritty "Take It As It Comes" are the rockers, but much of "Pale Morning" is the stuff of early morning or late nights, darkly lush and evocative.
Lead track "Walking Birds" is the radio stab, an elegiac and doleful tune sweetened by Chris Altman's keening pedal steel. Songwriter-guitarist Thomas writes with an ear to melodies rather than riffs, and his vocals are sweet but never saccharine. He also produced the album.
Deserters nod to Oasis and the Beatles but there's more than a modicum of Neil Young to be harvested from a song like "The Sun Shines Out". "Valerian (Goodnight)" definitely has that Britpop vibe to it but ultimately owes more to Gram Parsons with its arrangement.
This is an album of contrasts. "Race Me Home" has a dash of psychedelia which contrasts with the quiet melancholy of "Looking My Way." On the other hand, "I Think It's Alright" could have sat with The Pictures, with echoes of freakbeat in its organ-assisted groove.
"Pale Morning" lacks the immediacy or instant hooks of a classic pop record but works its way into the brain through a more circuitous route. Grown-ups who are pop fans take note. - The Barman
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