The alt-pop of Centrelink from Otto Da Fé will charm your socks off

Oh Centrelink. You can’t mention the bloody place without hearing some horror story detailing the slowness of the service or run ins with the sketchy characters who seem to perpetually haunt these establishments.

It’s a system that has been put in place to help people, yet comes under scrutiny from the high ups who feel they have the right to judge and those who clamour for it. We don’t get enough of it, there’s too much given, the argument meanders on.

There are a lot of things that you’d associate with Centrelink, but would romance be one of them?

Otto Da Fé

Within its harshly lit halls there is a hope to ponder the world in Centrelink from Otto Da Fé. The Sydney alt-pop muso effortlessly lays down the charm.

That’s the simple premise of Centrelink from Sydney based muso Otto Da Fé. Also known as Johannes De Silentio, Otto Da Fé has only be active under that moniker for a few months. He’s a bit of a character, a quality that shows through in his music but is best witnessed on his glorious Facebook page. To sum it up in a few words; pseudo intellectual references and weird shit. But hey, that’s part of the fun. The man is an oddity but he embraces it and let’s that character guide you through his world.

Which takes us to his single Centrelink. It’s an interesting piece of alternate pop. Clocking in at 1.45 in length it’s a brisk little number but one that feels so much longer. Let’s firstly chalk that up to the meandering vocals. In other cases I’d refer to ‘meandering’ vocals as a bad thing, but here it makes sense. Otto’s vox are drawn out, constantly shifting from slow delivery to fast line to line. It’s engaging and keeps the lyrics stapled to your mind. Joining on backing vocals is Bronte Murray, her sweet and light presence giving Centrelink an air of grace and charm.

But those lyrics are where the meat of the song is. Though the track is under two minutes long Otto manages to say a lot in this amount of time. The repetition of “Let’s pretend that I met you at Centrelink” in the first half is a little droning at first but the cheerful melody counters this and conjures up imagery of a ‘meet-cute’ situation in the dreary depths of the only government building more horrid than the RMS (that’s what we call the RTA now kids). The feeling of dreariness returns with the second line “Let’s pretend that we’re both built of parrafin“, the imagery of soulless, wax figures feeling more at home with the setting of the narrative.

Is the pretext of a relationship as artificial as wax? Are we all just pawns of a system that we can’t escape yet must learn to live through regardless? So many questions to answer, but the good thing is that Centrelink is able to pose those questions, however cryptic they may be.

If you like what you’re hearing be sure to check out Otto Da Fé next Thursday 18 June at Oxford Art Factory’s Five for Five gig. It’s presented by your mates at Happy, and features Beef JerkHedge FundGreenwave Beth and Twelve Point Buck. And the best part is it’s only five bucks!