Some pleasing news for fans of witty, well done pop songs last week in the form of this Facebook update.
“I. Me, being Dan Kelly have almost finished album # 5, tentatively called GOLD FEELS. i am super stoked to announce a special solo show at the iconic IT'S STILL A SECRET in South Brisbane on April 21. The show will feature a whole bunch of new songs about going a bit mad in the goldfields of Central Victoria. Don't worry, they're quite good and catchy even Also i pledge to play all the almost hits of the past decade like ' Bindi Irwin Apocalypse Jam' , 'Everything's Amazing!' 'Summer Wino' and the like. It will be a psychedelic journey into the past and future of an ex boy genius.”
In that spirit, Wind Back Wednesday, returns to the scene of the (anything but a crime) in the year 2006, a time when the younger-then Kelly might still have qualified for future or current boy genius.
DAN KELLY AND THE ALPHA MALES
Drowning In The Fountain Of Youth (In-Fidelity/Shock)
Unless you have been hiding under your bed for years or have the emotional as much as metaphorical blindness of your Donald Rumsfeld types, the chances are you've looked at the world in recent times and despaired. The artistic response has generally taken either the form of pure escapism (Kylie Minogue, Big Brother) or pure anger (Honour Bound, Neil Young). Both approaches make sense but need not be the only choice.
Dan Kelly is now a Melburnian but was born in Queensland during the most dispiriting years of the Bjelke-Petersen reign and therefore knows a thing or two about fatalism and farce. He is not among the blind so has chosen on his second album to throw stones but to deliver them in silky wrapping, to kick against the pricks but to laugh at them too.
Kelly has made an unashamedly bright and tune-filled album packed with spiky barbs and sometimes bitter observations, an album whose antecedents include the nippy space-pop of Steve Miller and the crafted consciousness of Randy Newman alongside Mungo McCallum and the young David Williamson.
It is in essence an album where, in Drunk On Election Night, the soul-flattening experience of watching the 2004 Federal poll results is stark: "some sucker rolled up in a Beemer, trailing streamers and I nearly got into a fight/I said 'you're making a fool of the country holding hands with the Christian right'/Then I turned to my girl and I cried".
But its packaging has all the dreaminess of a sweet cocktail-fuelled lull, as if Jimmy Buffett in a Hawaiian shirt was leading the house band.
Likewise, the cruising down the freeway groove of Babysitters Of The World Unite (with bop-shoo-wah backing vocals, glockenspiel and ascending keyboard) wraps a sweet exterior around the story of a dying marriage, while the title track pairs casual self-centredness with a twisting-by-the-pool bonhomie.
Along the way Kelly draws sharp and amusing vignettes, from the (very) simple man of I Will Release Myself and the gardener bewitched by his beautiful employer in Fire And Theft, to the petty crim lost in the grip of a long night of thieving and speeding in Vice City Rolling.
And he lays down these vignettes in hammocks of shimmery '70s pop that are deceptively light - deceptive because we assume the sunny day is simple while the gloom hides all manner of complexities - but far from flimsy. Dan Kelly is a very fine songwriter.