the devoted few – billboard noises / schematic tracks

i just can’t believe he’s never coming back my way again

i thought i would remember this better than i did. there’s a vague recollection, but it’s where it started where the memory lies. i chose to do both releases together for reasons below – they bear comparison in one sitting, not against each other over time.

this band came to me from a lover. he gave me the ripped copy of schematic tracks, which, it turned out, were remixes of some of the songs on the main album here, billboard noises, which i bought later. maybe it’s because i began with the alternate versions that i think they’re better; or they’re just burnt there. they seem to articulate the strongest points of the songs; hitting critical aspects perfectly; adding geographical features that were drowned in guitar noise and almost universally dulled pace on the originals.

the original work on billboard noises has a real folk-rock feeling – almost celtic – so quite a juxtaposition. as a whole it is not unlike a slightly more depressive teenage fanclub. the best song, aside from perhaps desolation angels, is june, july, august which carries a similar weight to pernice brothers of the era of overcome by happiness. that’s a great thing. but after 12 songs of similar lumbering music, similar lyrical content and ben fletcher’s ultimately monotonous mid-pitch singing, it is enough.

to this end, it seems a little odd that a remix album did better than a set of originals, but for these guys it made total sense. in a lot of ways, they couldn’t be more different.

it also reminds me there was a definite cadre of australian bands that sounded much like this during the first half of the 2000s, taking over from the more jangly rock and pop that dominated the second half of the 1990s. the rhythm, singing and guitar melodies and layers – all soft and affected – seemed to appeal to a lot of people. it was like more band members for less sound. but what the devoted few did with schematic tracks discerned them.

it’s not a bad legacy for them to have, in and of their own. but for me, it’s a legacy that carries just that little bit more as i listen to it again. an odd kind of emptiness.


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