Cry me a river

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - JAR­RAD BE­VAN

WHAT would song­writ­ers do with­out break-ups to draw inspiration from?

For Pnau’s fourth al­bum, Nick Lit­tle­more and Peter Mayes dug deep into Lit­tle­more’s per­sonal life to come up with an al­bum that’s heavy on the heart­break but of­ten pre­sented in an in­fec­tious, eu­phoric, ur­gent, popfriendly style.

There is a rush of songs at the al­bum’s be­gin­ning that lean on a sim­i­lar writ­ing style, a quiet verse fol­lowed by a louder cho­rus. It’s an age-old tech­nique that guar­an­tees re­sults ev­ery time.

What’s great about a tune like Ev­ery­body is the way the guys blend cos­mic synth melodies and in­sis­tent beat into the mix with a sad story and a butt-kick­ing, mem­o­rable cho­rus.

Solid Ground is a gui­tar-pop song that also ben­e­fits from this ten­sion and re­lease for­mat.

Lit­tle­more’s de­fi­ant lyrics are the ic­ing on the cake: ‘‘. . . there’s too much worth liv­ing for’’.

On Twist of Fate it is the way he sings that’s more im­pres­sive than the words them­selves. His de­liv­ery is stab­bing, in­sis­tent and ex­tremely catchy.

If any song here feels like a hit sin­gle it is The Truth, a good old-fash­ioned tale of heart­break.

Glimpse stands out be­cause it is dif­fer­ent to ev­ery other song on the al­bum. This mod­ern elec­tronic pop bal­lad hits hard and ( per­haps strangely) is rem­i­nis­cent of the pow­er­ful drums in Phil Collins’ clas­sic In The Air Tonight.

Solid from front to back, there’s plenty to like through­out the whole al­bum.

Unite Us has a cool bell melody; Bet­ter Way is pro­pelled by ma­chine gun per­cus­sion; Some­thing Spe­cial thrives on bouncy ana­logue synths; and Epic Fail has rock­ing tribal drums and an all-toorare whistling melody plus enough elec­tro bass to win over a fes­ti­val crowd.

Wait­ing For You is the al­bum’s most aching and del­i­cate song with its mourn­ful horns and an emo­tional swell of strings.

Lit­tle­more softly croons lines such as ‘‘ I will never leave you’’ and it sounds like the gospel truth.

Al­though there’s plenty of songs to dance to, this al­bum is a step away from night­clubs to­wards more tra­di­tional song­writ­ing struc­tures.

Soft Uni­verse is more fo­cused on proper songs than ever be­fore; these tunes have al­most noth­ing in com­mon with mind­less clubs track such as Wild Straw­ber­ries.

From smash­ing the charts as Em­pire of the Sun to com­pos­ing for Cirque du Soleil to this al­bum’s bold cre­ative leaps – these El­ton John-ap­proved Aussies are on some kind of hot streak.

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