The Tambourine Girls‘ End Of Time might be the best psych-pop release of the 1990’s. Okay, yes, it was released last week, May 16th in the year 2014, but listening to the open, casual acoustic strumming, the nasal vocal delivery, the stadium-size choruses and the appropriated 60’s influences from both sides of the atlantic on Simon Relf’s debut solo work, I can’t help but feel that the EP is more 90’s than most albums actually released between the years 1989 and 2000.
The best 90’s Britpop album was released last week by an Australian.
Let’s start with the opening track The End of Time. Listeners are faced with a wall of feedback, reverberating frequencies bouncing off each other to make up what is arguably the best part of the EP. This first taste of Relf’s solo work at once reflects his history in Sydney’s favourite Stone Roses cover band Deep Sea Arcade and at the same time belies and transcends the averageness of DSA’s tunes.
When listening to the 7 minute opener – an excellent length for an opening track (although King Gizz might scoff), there is a sonic depth and an appropriative element that I felt was missing from DSA’s work, something close to a subversion of the pop structure that we expect from Relf.
While never truly dissonant, the track evolves expertly from some pretty experimental, gazy stuff, through an era of heavily effected, but notational guitar picking, before an acoustic guitar marches in alongside Sgt. Peppers’ guitar licks until a less than dulcet Gallagheresque voice tells us about marching to paradise on heavy feet.
In this one swift (120 minute) movement, opening track The End of Time encapsulates the whole evolution of Britpop – springing from the ineffable, pedaled out noise of the 1989 art-school scene before remembering that The Beatles existed and then finally putting some meaningful words behind it all. Unlike Britpop however, the song continues to be awesome and doesn’t end up sounding like Coldplay.
Track three, Sandy is based around the same Oasisy accessibility – anthemic lyrics, layered guitars (I counted five at the outro, but there could be more in there) and a borderline headbanging chorus that seems to herald the sun shining out from somewhere inside Simon Relf himself. While the main chorus is undoubtedly something that you would definitely (maybe) say sounds like Oasis, there’s a subtle Radiohead undercurrent throughout, especially in the dual guitar solo, the fuzz given a studio sheen and the progression sounding more like Floyd era Gilmour than the Harrisonesque plucking of the first two tracks.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/149077419″ params=”color=7ac7a1&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Ghosts is a bit of a surprise on the release, the 3/4 time signature doing well to mix things up and open our eyes, which by now are probably pretty red if you’re listening to this album properly. This switch up, in a strange way results in a more memorable listening moment and a less memorable track – I definitely remembered that the EP went into a different timing, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember when or where or what happened until my second listen. That would be the short term memory loss kicking in. Now where was I up to… have we already talked about Sandy?
Closing track Cinderella shoots us across the Atlantic Ocean to the 90’s of North America – specifically to a small bandroom where a band called The Dandy Warhols are currently performing Thirteen Tales, sweaty and shirtless, while The Pixies anachronously look on from backstage*. That balladial, jangly, all over the place guitar melody, those tambourine flourishes and that defiant guitar drone prove Relf doesn’t discriminate when it comes to borrowing and evolving from some of the biggest musical names of the best decade ever (or so we seem to think).[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/149077411″ params=”color=7ac7a1&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Relf and his Tambourine Girls will be on tour throughout the month with Dustin Tebbutt, the two Sydney and Melbourne shows next week being completely sold out. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to catch him support Happy fave Spookyland in July on Friday the 13th for his Silly Fucking Thing single launch at FBi Social.
FIND OUT MORE ON
*We’re well aware that those events never would have happened in any real historical context.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/34509776″ params=”color=7ac7a1&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]