Counterpart (Broken Stone/Remote Control)
While they don’t really sound alike, and certainly don’t look alike (though at least their creation as bands drawn from various parts of Australia that somehow feel none-more-Sydney is something in common), it was when I played the Hoodoo Guru’s second album at the weekend, in the middle of a run of plays of this, Imperial Broads’ second album, that the penny dropped.
What the Imperial Broads songwriting trio of Pip Smith (guitar and vocals) Eve Lande (guitar and vocals) and Lauren Crew (bass and vocals) have at their core is a love for some classic forms of guitar pop that isn’t modified by any arbitrary lines of quality/trash, serious/comic or sweet/sour. And that was, and is, Gurus territory too.
Aesthetically and musically, the Broads play broadly. You will find here garage punk and postpunk – irregular and angular rhythms; the suggestion of a sneer, and the occasional flash of inward-looking insecurity – then both of them filtered through riot grll’s fuzzed indifference merged with joyous abandon. You’ll get the sweet doom of ‘60s girl groups and the studied hookiness of New Wave, then both of them filtered through dream pop’s noise-meets-tunes approach.
If Same Old seems to operate behind thick gauze curtain and Lovers sets up like a Tarantino favourite in a Tokyo au-go-go, Control has oohs and aahs with straight line rhythm guitars, then a wriggling lead line behind a moody hum, with drums charging forward energy back then charging forward again. If We Need This needles like Magazine while cooing like Buzzcocks, and ends up galloping away like The Go-Go’s, the ice cream tub-thumping I Got A Feeling takes The Hard-Ons and The Clouds as equal partners for a helter skelter pop run.
The combination has you alternating assertive head jerks with smiling head bobs (Another Planet kicks and floats and kicks again then chucks in a sax solo), moving from glazed eyes to hectic footwork (you will want to dance to Unromantic, especially Crew’s flexi-limbed basslines, but I recommend doing it sober), and air punching with glee when not making lounge-lying observations (Slow Down Rabbit’s middle eight may chunk up but the verses have a certain insouciance).
If Smith and Lande’s guitars, and the three writers’ variety, get the immediate spotlight, doing more than keeping time is drummer Nick Kennedy, who left after recording this album as he concentrated on some of his other bands (such as The Electorate who were recently reviewed here). He gets it right each time, whether it is the unfussy simplicity of the very Shangri-Las-like Green Balloon or the tight drive of Socioplath.
And yes, that last song is spelt that way. That might give you another clue about Imperial Broads: there are some clever lines and subtle plays within these lyrics, reflecting a bit more experience – life and song-wise – than your average second album band. Cheers to that.
And cheers to not thinking it necessary to limit what you put out (in range and style), any more than you would limit what you take in.