Monday, 15 June 2009

Review: Seaplane - We Didn't Know Anything Was Wrong

Over the years Seaplane have been a fairly constant figure on the Brisbane indie scene. At least that was the the case up to the last year or so, when the band seemingly disappeared entirely. In recent months they've returned with a new drummer (Scott Brique, otherwise known as the singer from Nova Scotia) and this, a new 12" record titled We Didn't Know Anything Was Wrong.

WDKAWW opens with a similar one-two punch as Seaplane's previous record, Technical Difficulties, with a fairly epic instrumental number followed by a shorter 'pop' song. In this instance the opener is 'The Man With No Name', a song built around some vaguely middle eastern noodling and big, crunchy guitar chords (the guitars in the big 'choruses' are also backed by some wordless vocals that continue the song's exotic theme). 'The Man With No Name' is kind of reminiscent of GY!BE's 'Albanian', but packed into a lean two-and-half minutes instead of sixteen. Coming straight on the heels of the opener is lead single 'The Soiree', a sub two minute rock song built around a four-chord progression, a Regurgitator-esque 'ooo-ee-ooo-ee-ooo' hook and a screamed chorus courtesy of Dale Peachey. From there the record heads into the Stirling Bartlam sung 'The Switch' (sounding like something from Big Heavy Stuff's early records), before slowing down with Peachey's more reflective (but still awesomely epic) 'Feather'. It's a great end to the first side of the EP, and probably my favourite track.

Side Two begins with the tense 'Plastic Jesus', which probably doesn't quite earn its 4:24 running time seeing as it's essentially just two chords repeated for the entire length of the song; that said, the combination of length and repitition does seem to reinforce the claustrophic feeling of the song. Similarly relentless is 'Rinse It', which treads a similar path to the previous track, but that throws away the tense restraint in favour of continual build towards a noisy climax (although the lyrics provide something of a humourous juxtaposition, consisting of various instructions being directed at former drummer Conwae Burrell - who mans the drums throughout this record as his final act in the band - to wake up, clean his house, etc). Penultimate track 'The Underture' is a lofi instrumental racket whose brevity increases its potency, taking us to We Didn't Know Anything Was Wrong's closer in the form of 'Shotgun', another slower and more reflective song. Even at their most mellow, as they are on this track, Seaplane still cram in more guitar chaos than most other acts doing the rounds at the moment.

We Didn't Know Anything Was Wrong pretty much offers up what you'd expect from a Seaplane record: scratchy guitars noodling around relatively simple song structures, insistent drums, and reedy vocals. That may be a fairly big reduction of their sound, perhaps unfairly so, so I'll add this: I would say that this is their best release - it's more consistent, cohesive and better engineered than anything else they've put out (and their prior output is not weak). The guitars are the real focal point of the band, on here they're more restless than ever - they might only be based around a handful of chords on any one song, but the way they dance around those simple building blocks is the band's strength, rarely playing a given section the same way more than once or twice. The end result is somewhere in between Nova Scotia's slacker pop and the more chaotic sounds of Turnpike, and pretty much equal to those bands' output.

Here is the video clip for The Soiree:

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