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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews


Oh Mercy
Great Barrier Grief

Holy shit what a boring record. It's so unwaveringly uncharismatic and passively timid, and really just plain dull. Which I have to say comes to me as a bit of a surprise. After all there's a glowing forward by Paul Kelly floating around the Press Club and a ton of praise coming from the music industry itself, pitching the record as a "true Australian work of songwriting brilliance". All of which made me hold out some hope that this could potentially be something.

Well it's not.

I can't say I've ever been a big fan of this band, but at least when they came into view a few years ago they didn't seem to take themselves too seriously. They were more of a whimsical pop band that even started to look like they might distance themselves from their Australian competitors. (See Little Red or other luke warm Australian Phoenix cover bands).

Well, unfortunately, those easy days are behind Oh Mercy and with Great Barrier Grief they are out to prove that they are serious.

Keith St, the record's second song, is really indicative of the whole album so I'll start there. It opens well enough as it bumps along with the Rolling Stones firmly in mind, before sliding into some simple phrasing to push through the first verse. Then we get to the chorus and nothing happens. There's no train wreck, no greatest day of your life, no cut through moment of any kind. Nothing. It all just stays in third gear as Alex Gow's uninspired chorus melody just leaks out.

And so goes the album.

Each tune sets itself a nice enough, inoffensive platform and if you had say, Mark Everett, stroll in at his depressed best and deliver some throat tearing dynamic to these songs, a decent LP may have resulted. But alas, Oh Mercy have Gow stretching the vocal chords around these often dull melodies, and it just doesn't feel like he believes in either the songs or his own voice enough to make it work.

With Great Barrier Grief the obvious ambitions of creating a lyrically focused record are undermined by the weak lyrical content, the endless cliches and the complete lack of conviction. Above all else though, there's nothing substantial to grab onto here. Honestly, where are the hooks? Where's the enthusiastic instrumentation, or the emotional peaks and troughs of any kind?

From opener Stay, Please Stay all the way down to Doldrums, this record stays very much in the pocket and, to be frank, the pocket is pretty fucking drab and unmemorable. It's always a worry when you listen to a record a number of times and nothing really sticks with you, nothing offends you, nothing does anything to you. Well Great Barrier Grief is one of those records. It slips out of the mind as if it never stepped in. Leaving you feeling as enthusiastic about it as the band sound like they were when they recorded it.

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Record Reviews
Oh Mercy


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You guys!

1 decade ago


So why wasn't this album good? Other than the fact that it's not good

1 decade ago


Poor review Whaley!

Seems you have totally missed the point of the album. Yes, it is unashamedly a 'pop' album, but that's its strength, not weakness. The lyrics are reasonably strong, songs well crafted, with enough hooks to keep the listener interested & certainly retain their whimsical nature. Sure it's not a demanding album, but nor should it be.

I am not generally a big fan of such 'pop' albums, but this one is definitely deserving of a better review or at least one that is not so lopsided.

You choose to let 'Keith St' provide the basis of your review. I'd suggest it is one of the weaker tracks, but looking to tracks 3-7 would be a better place to start to explore the strengths of this album.

Yes, the album is non offensive in true 'pop' style, a little one paced & Gow's vocals seemingly strained at times, nonetheless all presented in an endearing manner.

I think this band displays a definite maturity to avoid certain overworkings in the recording studio & let Gow's vocals do the talking. Hints of jangly electric guitar throughout, along with keyboard, round out the sound sufficiently to keep the listeners attention.

Sunday mornings in Summer heat might never sound better with a little Oh Mercy!


1 decade ago

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