Rainbow Valley (Island/Universal)
If this album had been made by some beardy boffin in Laurel Canyon, producer for the stars and offsider to legends, everyone would be calling it a mystic pop gem and all the cool kids would be devouring it. Solution? Don’t tell them it’s a young Australian who played everything on it and knows how to write a pop song too, just watch them get excited as they get into it.
Funky when you least expect it, dreamy, groovy (both in its musical and hippie sense), blurry at the edges and sometimes shiny on the surface, Rainbow Valley is the kind of record which maybe should come with the music equivalent of matching wines on a restaurant menu. In this case, matching drugs.
Admittedly, most of them would include weed, such as for the drifting on a cloud Better, which is equal parts sunshine soul and surf’s up pop, and moves with the languid grace of a ballet dancer’s arms. Or the blissed-out Elements, which lies on its back to stare at the sky but can’t help but reach out to touch the passing loping bass and glistening keyboards. And its hazy pop cousin Rainbow Valley, closing the record on a slowly rising wave of early Prince and later Frank Ocean.
But you could definitely get some mushroom action going for No Ordinary Life which sparkles with joy (and harp and falsetto) while keeping its focus just off centre, or Get With The Times, where a shoulders-and-head rhythm (and flute and smooth boy backing vocals) feels like a warm night in a park.
Maybe you’d consider some ‘ludes for the slide-into-my-DMs late ‘70s soul of New Day Coming, where strings and caressing vocals ease up into the light fingered bass and shuffled drums, and All That I See, where some lovers rock merges with a Philly soul richness to suggest energy and happy lethargy at the same time.
If opiates are your thing, the album’s opener, Light My Dart Up, where Corby’s sings in his lowest tone while half lights blink around it, is either a slow awakening or a preamble to a long lie down. While I reckon a deep well of a glass of wine – red, not too full bodied – might set off the nu-soul glide-and-drop-to-the-knees of Miracle Love very nicely.
And really, if you were to drop some ecstasy and just take the whole album in you’d probably feel pretty damn fine for a bit more than its 41 minute length. (Or would that 41 minutes just seem like a glorious time-lapse four or five hours? Either way, good times.)
Party favours aside, Matt Corby’s second album, like recent ones from Joel Sarakula and – especially - Jonathan Wilson, is a record at ease with its roots and itself, drawing on a strong ‘70s influence without locking down in one area, and unafraid to just be. That is, to accept where the song has gone and build from there.
Its not so secret weapon is that even in the haziest fug of fragrant smoke there is a tune to hitch a ride on. A reminder that whatever else you call this, a pop album it unashamedly is.
And kids, keep this between us, but pop is the finest drug of all.
SPOTIFY: Listen to Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley
APPLE MUSIC: Listen to Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley