Local outfit Gersey
release the second in what I hope will become a trifekta of excellent Aussie albums this month when I pick up A Little Easy
by Philippa Nihil (ex-Underground Lovers) soon. Gersey's debut full-length Hope Springs
is the best "rock" album I've heard since Piano Magic's Artist's Rifles,
and perhaps even surpasses that wonder.
Gersey's style - a mash of contemplative indie rock, mournful slowcore and post-rock expansiveness - fills the racks of your local indie store like an incumbent plague. What makes these guys special? Perhaps it's nothing. Perhaps my concentration on dance music this past year (the last indie release I bought was the Bedhead/Macha collaboration) has insulated me somewhat from the masses of music just like this, and I'm just giving this distinction because it's Australian.
But I reckon there is something special about Gersey's music; a sort of resilient plaintiveness that characterises every moment of this record. The singer's vocals fall halfway between the pessimism of Disco Inferno's Ian Kraus and the gentle resignation of The Go-Between's Grant McLennan. Even the surprisingly rock-flavoured cuts like "Then There's Sirens" (think discordant Sonic Youth drones and The Chameleons' contrast of surging and fragile) have an element of wry fatalism to them that prevents it from venturing towards either over-earnestness or miserablism.
There's flickers of so many brilliant bands throughout the album - Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Talk Talk, Bark Psychosis, The Underground Lovers, early Stereolab, Low, Mogwai - that there's the threat of simply being reminded of superior practitioners of the art when listening. On their debut ep Bewilderment Is A Blessing from last year they overcame this through lurching, curiously stunted arrangements that were endearingly original. It's very easy to hear a huge jump in confidence since then. While one of that release's many charms was its sense of self-effacement (I think I described the single "The Floor Came Up To Caress Me" as one of the humblest epics ever), the focus, assertiveness and ambition of the new album just lifts it to a whole new level, on par with those it attempts to emulate.
I could cite here the way "So Long Silver" smoothly moves from country lament to an extended, glorious drone with a perfect trumpet climax. Or how "Gallantry & Grace" is happy to be an anthemic rocker (albeit a gleaming single-chord chug of a rocker) that the band's almost wimpish first incarnation could never have pulled off. Or how the amazing finale "The Beautiful Look City Today" gathers itself from a sad ballad to a tumultuous, impossibly bombastic guitar maelstrom, then manages to switch back to sad ballad and back again to climax without sounding forced or deliberate.
But I won't start, because I'll be here all day. So this is another one of those "just buy it" reviews. I know it gets annoying when all my reviews are insanely positive, but until I break my winning streak there's very little I can do about it.