Monday, 5 May 2014

EP Review - is it right?

is it right?
by Our Man In Berlin (out now!)

Music means all sorts of things to all sorts of people. To some it is that stuff you hear in the background at the supermarket, to some it is the stuff you dance to in the dark after a few beverages, to some it is an advertisement, to some it is that racket the kids listen to, to some it’s not the same as it used to be and to some it is distraction and escape. To me it is a friend, it’s happy to hang out with me in the supermarket and the club, but it’s also a comfort and a celebration, it's essentially a long relationship we have but sometimes the greatest thing about music is meeting my newest best friend.

So let me introduce you to my newest friend, the long awaited EP from Perth’s Our Man In Berlin. Six tracks I have waited a lifetime (at least a year) for, six tracks I have fallen quickly in love with and six tracks I didn’t know I needed until I heard them, each and every one as amazing as the last, each one as strong as the next but all of them together an eclectic mix of emotions and sounds, each their own story but flowing together as one beautiful story.

The first track; ‘Spilt Milk’ is the perfect introduction to what is bound to become an intense friendship, it’s urgent beats tempered with the ethereal keys and sounds wafting over the top, comforting and equally alarming, the combination incredibly addictive. ‘Airhead’ today is exactly as I described it the first time I heard it all those months ago now, mesmerising and wistful, the goose bump inducing voice of vocalist Haydn Mansell just as dramatic now as it was with first listen, something I just can’t seem to get enough of.

‘Cirrhosis’ is as addictive as the condition that causes it in real life, the pleasant dream pop sounds begging to be heard again and again. Guitarist Trevor Shotams’ skills are shown off wonderfully, perfectly positioned in a tale that needs to be heard, the band’s ability to balance light and dark seems effortless, the crescendo of sound leaving me wanting more and more with every listen. ‘Is it right?’ earns its place as title track a little over midway through this twenty-one minute adventure and proves again something this five piece are so comfortable with and so many have yet to learn, the talent to know that every now and then less is more and sometimes more is less is shown off to its full potential in this, the shortest song on the EP. The keys by Justin Martins are charming, offset by the almost harsh sounds the rest of the band creates, and yet again, Haydyn’s voice a gentle yet incredibly strong force, pushing its way through the track and demanding attention.

‘Flight’ is the track that confirmed for me just how much I adored this band when I first heard it a couple of months ago now. It shocked me, made me realise how much I liked a band that were so comfortable with their sounds that they were already willing to experiment a little so early in their (hopefully long) career, without leaving their listeners alienated. It creates the same feeling on this EP, but now it is really nice a reminder of the diversity of sounds that they can create.

Probably my favourite track, the one I have left to speak of last and it's the one Our Man In Berlin have done the same; ‘Lonely Arms’ is the final track and is an absolute true delight. While the entire EP is a journey of emotions in itself, ‘Lonely Arms’; a combination of keys and beats and sounds and voice is like a subdued punch in the face, it's the heart breaker, the one that leaves me feeling completely satisfied and completely empty, the combination bittersweet and beautiful and like all my favourite music does.

It’s this feeling that I can’t live without, the feeling that makes me keep listening, pressing play again and again and desperately wanting to experience this all live. The enchanting sounds on is it right? are more than I would ever expect from a stadium filling band with a lifetime of years behind them. These sounds are as important as any created, they are the type that only a few are lucky enough to be able to create and thankfully a whole lot of us get to experience. These are the sounds that make music mean as much as it does, the ones I described in the beginning, comforting and celebratory, the sounds that make music my best friend and thankfully Our Man In Berlin have helped me meet my latest. Six songs bound to become the latest in a long list of friends. Welcome to my gang, is it right?, you’ve joined a long and varied list of sounds and you are definitely one of the best musical friends this year is bound to bring.

Jo Michelmore gives 'is it right?' four and a half  Michael Hutchence heads out of five...

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