33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Overdue re-release of a superb bands superb third album,
This review is from: Born Sandy Devotional (Audio CD)
I find myself when reviewing certain albums by certain bands using the words "Criminally neglected" a lot. That's probably because I review a lot of bands who are criminally neglected, not that their being criminally neglected would stand up in court like ....but it should. Anyway a particularly pertinent example of this is The Triffids.
The very first review I wrote for Amazon was for The Traffics "Calenture", a sumptuous collection of bruise deep love songs that is one of my favourite things ever. The album that preceded that while lacking "Calenture,s" blue eyed opulent romanticism was "Born Sandy Devotional " which in it's own more arid yet starkly quixotic way is just as superb. Some would even say it's superior. I would contest them on that but not too vociferously.
The late Davis McComb was a truly gifted performer and writer obsessed with the vastness and landscape of his native Australia .Though this album was actually recorded in London it virtually reeks of the outback .Very rarely does one album so tantalisingly encapsulate the ambience , odours and textures of the geography that inspired it. More than any travel documentary "Born Sandy Devotional" imbibes the listener in what it would be like to experience the places these songs exist in. And what songs they are.
"Seabirds" is one the great opening numbers of an album. "No foreign pair of dark sun glasses can ever shield you from/ the light that pierces your eyelids /the screaming of the gulls". This song enveloped in pedal steel and ominous strings radiates dramatic friction and the lyrics have that ambiguous yet elegiac frisson that McComb seemed to produce at will. "Estuary Bed" follows with more lush pedal steel from Graham Lee and a beautiful languorous middle eight and yet more memorable couplets. "I know your shape/ our limbs entwined/I know your shape, remember mine." "Chicken Killer" has tumultuous guitar and is considered by some as a weak point of the album but it acts as a more buoyant bridge to the emotionally wracked fare that's to come. "Tarrilup Bridge" is a concise wrought suicide note leading to "Lonely Stretch", an epic road song with more dramatic bilious backing seething like cockroaches on a soiled mattress. "Wide Open Road "has McComb hunting down an ex -lover and her new man. "The Sky was big and empty/my chest filled to explode" he intones over hypnotic spiralling percussion. The swaggering chorus of "Life Of Crime" belies it mixture of regret and incipient desire while "Personal Things" is another haunting lament for someone who isn't there anymore, the albums emotional thematic hub. "Stolen Property" while undoubtedly the albums overwhelming blockbuster is a tremendous song, yet it falls momentarily into over wrought melodrama before the tender and touching brilliance of McCombs vocal for the songs conclusion. "Tender is the Night( The Long Fidelity )" is the clumsily titled closer, sung by Jill Birt who isn't a particularly gifted vocalist but her wispy tones quite suit the songs fragile emanation and the way David McComb weaves his way into the song is just magical.
There are extra tracks promised for this album which makes it a must in my house ( I've always owned this on vinyl ) and there are , I believe, plans to re-release their entire back catalogue over the next 18 months with more extra tracks and other impossibly exciting stuff. About ruddy time if you ask me. Few bands do/did organic fervid rock music as well as The Triffids and in David McComb they had one of the most compelling sages on loves choppy waters with a voice to pound your heart like a punch bag. To paraphrase the great man -those drums will roll off in your forehead, those guns will go off in your chest.