Saturday, 7 June 2008

Review: The John Steel Singers - The Beagle And The Dove

For those of you unfortunate enough to have missed out on the John Steel Singers' debut EP, The Beagle And The Dove is your chance to amend this. The mini-LP, which features all the tracks from the EP plus two/three new tracks, is a perfect introduction to Brisbane's fastest rising band.

The previous mentioned two/three new tracks is due to the inclusion of live favourite 'The Staged Intervention Of Poor Rich By His Righteous Peers' (b.k.a. 'Poor Rich'). Due to its extended length and intentions of it being a single, the band have chosen to record it in it's full length but break it up into the lyrical side of the track ('Poor Rich') and a coda, entitled 'Richard'. The two tracks combined result in the Singers' most accomplished song so far. Opening with a dreamy sequence complete with chimes and a bouncing bassline, 'Poor Rich' switches and swaps styles every thirty seconds or so. The result is a Sgt. Pepper-ish pop psychedelia that bursts at the seam with beautiful arrangements and clashing melodies. Marching drums, horns, dirty guitar, and choir-like vocals all pop up at one time or another during the song; indeed 'Poor Rich' could quite possibly contain the makings of 5 or 6 decent songs, but the Singers opt to mash it all together resulting in a pop collage unparrallelled in this day and age.

'Strawberry Wine' is next, clocking in at just over two minutes. The ode to passion pop is a simple yet severely contagious song, all woo-hoo-hoo's and soaring trumpet. 'Evolution', the second new recording on The Beagle And The Dove, is a much more complex song then those heard on the inital EP. Sounding like a long forgotten Dexy's Midnight Runners track, the bouncing bass line (courtesy of a combination of bass, double bass and trumpet) carrying the track along as the rest of Singers go harmony-crazy over the top.

The break-neck pace of 'Smashing The Speed Of Sound On An Empty Lake In Utah' is a nice counter-weight to the slower songs on the record. While the rest of the band don't miss a step on the song, special commendation has to go to the organ playing (provided either by Scott or Pete, I'm not certain) which adds a huge amount of urgency to the song. 'Submarines And Kayaks' manages to combine odd lyrics with even odder music, but the Singers manage to pull it off. Halfway through the band even throws a bit of continental European folk stylings, complete with accompanying accordian courtesy of Pat Elliott.

Up next is the superb 'Tony Delaney'. Returning to the Sgt. Peppers vibe of 'Poor Rich', 'Tony Delaney' is an upbeat pop song with downbeat lyrics about a man's mid-life crisis ("He's got a wife and she's got nine lovers too/He knows, she brings them around for tea."). The Singers also throw in a nifty country-rock breakdown towards the end, seeminlgy so they can claim to have covered every pop style on the record. The closing song, 'Rhapsody In Red', showcases a band that, given a worldclass producer, could easily create a pop masterpiece. The start and stop melody keeps the listener guessing all through the song, while the honky-tonk piano keeps things slightly humourous with it's call and response play with the vocals (I think there may actually be some socket wrench in there somewhere too).

For those whose heard the John Steel Singers' debut EP, The Beagle And The Dove is worth the purchase purely on the strength of 'Poor Rich' and 'Evolution'. If you didn't hear that EP then you really have no excuse now. The Beagle And The Dove is half an hour of pure pop delight that will have you hitting repeat again and again.


Anonymous said...

Eh, you could say that. Or you could say they blow gotes.

Gav said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Don't think gotes is a word mate